We conducted a two-part study to examine how the use of different manipulatives, levels of instructional guidance, and collaboration among college-aged students influenced their mathematics performance and perseverance. In Study 1, we manipulated different types of manipulatives (no manipulative, bland, and perceptually rich), and different contextual factors of instructional guidance (high vs. low) to identify how they influenced students’ ability to complete mathematical problems as well as impact students’ perseverance. Findings showed that participants’ use of bland manipulatives positively impacts their ability to complete word problems. Study 2, grounded in findings from Study 1, incorporated collaborative learning to lessen the negative effects of using perceptually rich manipulatives and enhance students’ perseverance in mathematics. The results from Study 2 aligned with the findings from Study 1 concerning the negative effect of perceptual richness for problem-solving and perseverance. Moreover, the collaboration of participants had a positive effect on students’ perseverance during problem-solving as students who collaborated with perceptually rich manipulatives persevered as much as those who collaborated with bland manipulatives as well as those who worked individually with bland manipulatives.