For over 30 years the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) has called for a conceptually-based curriculum in schools throughout the country. The most recent psychological and educational research has shown that conceptual understanding is a key attribute of individuals who are proficient in mathematics. Furthermore, a large body of research over the last four decades suggests that effective use of physical and pictorial models of mathematics concepts improves students’ conceptual understanding, problem-solving skills, and overall achievement in mathematics. Research also indicates that the use of concrete and pictorial models improves spatial visualization and geometric thinking.
The Mathematics Pentathlon® Program incorporates a variety of concrete and pictorial models to develop students’ conceptual understanding of many important mathematics concepts that involve computational, spatial, and logical reasoning. In addition, by playing these games in cooperative groups, as suggested in this publication, students also improve their oral and written communication skills through their discussion of mathematical ideas and relationships.