The validation of an instrument using the activity theory for the evaluation of the students’ comprehension of virtual manipulatives in mathematics learning


The advent of new technologies has replaced physical manipulatives—which are physical models of equivalent representation of concepts—by virtual manipulatives which many learners and teachers find useful in the mathematics classroom. In the current study, I investigated students’ motivation to engage with virtual manipulatives as a tool in the mathematics education.

The activity theory was used to develop a multi-componential instrument to be used in a survey of virtual manipulatives in education and it was administered among 442 Iranian high school students with the aim of examining students’ perception of various aspects of the manipulatives. Using the Rasch-Andrich rating scale model (RSM), an item response theory model, psychometric features of the instrument including item endorsibility, learners’ ability, fit, and unidimensionality was examined and a valid instrument  was developed for measuring students’ motivation in using virtual manipulation. The validated instrument can be used to find the factors that could improve students’ perceptions of virtual manipulatives in the mathematics classroom. Investigating the relationship between the constructs in the validated instrument can cross the boundary of knowledge and enhance the quality of teaching and learning mathematics as well.

* Ph.D, mathematics education, Organization for Educational Research and Planning, Institute of Curriculum Planning and Educational Innovation, Tehran, Iran,