Examining First-Graders’ Developing Understanding of Place Value via Base-Ten Virtual Manipulatives

Lucia M. Flevares, Michelle Perry, Shereen Oca Beilstein, Neet Priya Bajwa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Place value is a challenging concept in children’s developing understanding of number. In this study we examine how first-grade children’s developing understanding interacts with representations of place value in a virtual game. We examined the comments and strategies children produced during the game, particularly attending to those that exhibited emerging knowledge about base-10 structure. Both behaviors were then examined in relation to children’s performance on a grade-specific pre- and posttest. Not surprisingly, children who made comments about tens during the game showed greater pre-to-posttest gains than those who did not. Less expectedly, children whose strategies relied exclusively on counting, but were prone to errors, showed gains in performance when compared to accurate counters. Implications are discussed in terms of the affordances of virtual manipulatives, especially when learners lack some necessary skills to succeed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)359-370
Number of pages12
JournalEarly Childhood Education Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Knowledge change
  • Microgenetic method
  • Place value
  • Virtual manipulatives

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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