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Testing the effectiveness of mathematical games as a pedagogical tool for children's learning
journal contributionposted on 2012-12-01, 00:00 authored by Leicha Bragg
In an effort to engage children in mathematics learning, many primary teachers use mathematical games and activities. Games have been employed for drill and practice, warm-up activities and rewards. The effectiveness of games as a pedagogical tool requires further examination if games are to be employed for the teaching of mathematical concepts. This paper reports research that compared the effectiveness of non-digital games with non-game but engaging activities as pedagogical tools for promoting mathematical learning. In the classrooms that played games, the effects of adding teacher-led whole class discussion was explored. The research was conducted with 10–12-year-old children in eight classrooms in three Australian primary schools, using differing instructional approaches to teach multiplication and division of decimals. A quasi-experimental design with pre-test, post-test and delayed post-test was employed, and the effects of the interventions were measured by the children’s written test performance. Test results indicated lesser gains in learning in game playing situations versus non-game activities and that teacher-led discussions during and following the game playing did not improve children’s learning. The finding that these games did not help children demonstrate a mathematical understanding of concepts under test conditions suggests that educators should carefully consider the application and appropriateness of games before employing them as a vehicle for introducing mathematical concepts.