What Do Teachers Think About Finger-Counting?

Yılmaz Mutlu, Levent Akgün, Yavuz Erdem Akkuşci

Abstract


The aim of this study is to determine preschool, special education, classroom and mathematics teachers’ views of finger-counting in mathematics teaching. The study was conducted with case study design. The sample of the study consisted of 34 teachers. Data were collected using an 8-item written form, and content analysis was performed. The findings of the study indicate that most participants use fingers as manipulatives in the teaching of numbers and counting but use them very little when teaching the four operations. Most participants state that finger-counting should be used at ages 4-8 / 4-11 while some state that there should not be any age limit. According to the participants, the advantages of finger-counting are that it is practical and accessible, facilitates retention and internalization, and makes the arithmetic more concrete while its disadvantages are that it restricts and slows down the execution of the four operations, prevents the development of mental arithmetic skills and turns into a habit. They state that students who insist on finger-counting have high anxiety, poor memory, and low self-confidence and achievement. Some participants encourage their students to perform mathematical calculations without using pen and paper to help them break the habit of finger-counting and also receive parental support during the process. The fact that students have different characteristics should be taken into account when addressing the use of finger-counting in mathematics teaching because the use of fingers in counting and calculation may be a necessity rather than a choice for some students.

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