Touching Points on a Numeral as a Means of Early Calculation: Does this Method Inhibit Progression to Abstraction and Fact Recall?

Beth McCulloch Vinson, Ph.D.

This study addresses the infrequent, yet important, concerns raised by teachers regarding student reliance on TouchPoints in middle grades and beyond. Are these children too old to be relying on TouchPoints? Should they be moving away from this "crutch"? Vinson found answers to these questions through a thorough investigation of research literature. Her work demonstrates the link between important foundational research and the principles of the TouchMath Program.

  • TouchMath is based on the soundest research — from the foundational writers such as Piaget and Bruner to today's leading experts
  • The TouchMath Program is a scaffold or instructional support that students can move away from when, and if, ready
  • Working on the concrete level does not inhibit the development of mental strategies, or inhibit students from moving to the abstract level
  • Just as some people need eyeglasses to see, some students may continue to count the TouchPoints in order to "see" mathematics. Students still using TouchPoints in the later grades may not have any other support mechanism and might otherwise "shut down"
  • The few older students who need to use TouchPoints as scaffolds should not diminish the credibility of the method itself. In fact, this should lend to its credibility, since these students may not have any support system without the use of TouchPoints
  • Research involving 722 adult respondents, who are successful at higher mathematics, shows that counting and using strategies such as those presented by TouchMath have provided an important foundation for their success

In summation, the study states, "Although it is commendable for teachers to worry about student progress, that worry may be unnecessary.