Using the SOROBAN to develop strategies for mental calculation

Researchers: Dr Thomas Macintyre

Project overview


Recent policy initiatives require schools to pay greater attention to mental calculation in mathematics. This study proposed the use of a soroban, or Japanese abacus, as a means of developing number sense and strengthening student understanding of number concepts. There is evidence that ‘expert’ soroban users have enhanced mental calculation abilities.

The project investigated likely benefits for ‘novice’ users. An intervention and control model was used. It was anticipated that using traditional technology of the soroban in an innovative and clearly structured way in the classroom may enhance the learning process and ultimately develop the intervention student’s ability to calculate mentally. It was also anticipated that exposing students to the Japanese abacus would enhance awareness of the contributions made by other cultures.

Team


  • Dr Thomas Macintyre
    University of Edinburgh

  • Director, Education
    Nuffield Foundation

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