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Martin Schön

LifeLongLearning Graz University of Technology Mandellstraße 13, A-8010 Graz +433168734931

Martin Ebner
Social Learning Graz University of Technology Münzgrabenstraße 35A/I, A8010 Graz +433168738540

Georg Kothmeier
Social Learning Graz University of Technology Münzgrabenstraße 35A/I, A8010 Graz +433168738540

It's Just About Learning the Multiplication Table

1. Presumptions for 1x1 2. Experiences with developing an adaptive or intelligent program 3. Surprises & future – Contact for use this applications Or: this is a story, how we began to think about a teaching problem, how we tried to solve it with a small application and how this leaded us to Learning Analytics & Educational Data Mining


Application to test the skills at the multiplication table. Special: Algorithm for a somewhere intelligent procedure. Situation: Pupil is introduced to a teacher. He/She tries to gain an overview of the tasks the students can do reliable well in an optimal way .

• learning math starts before the school begins • cultural differences, some obviously based on language implications • linguistic competence is needed • mathematic is the first non-native language • many children do not really understand reasons for crucial aspects of the procedure • the most common and traditional way to learn the multiplication table is drill and practice

How to …
• According to current neurological oriented research results, but also based on a very old educational tradition, teaching should use tactile, optical and acoustic processing methods in every single case – intensively when one observes deviations from the mainstream. • Learning / teaching multiplication tables should not be reduced on a machine

Program / Checklist
• The system should estimate the competence grade of the learner • The system should provide appropriate tasks according to the competence grade of the learner. • Nevertheless the tasks should tend to be challenging. • The system should ensure that already well-done exercises are repeated and practiced. After succeeding a problem the probability for a repeated display decreases in two levels (similar to a Leitner System )

Checklist cont.
• In general the system should be motivating and show that learning can be fun. • The system should record and safe fine-grained data of all done exercises, test results and the current competence grade of the learner in order to prepare the next sessions in an adequate way. • It should relieve the teacher from this unsolvable task as an information processing tool

Checklist - Addon
• during this spring we defined another goal: Today we are able to present a database for organizing schools, classes and individuals – with an interface for the conventional desktop browsers and also for Android and Apple mobile devices. • The web-application ist written in php/mysql – • the apps in objectiveC (iPhone) & • JAVA (Android).

• the goal is to generate a complete table to inform learners as well as teachers about their competence in every single task, in every single multiplication fact (no probabilistic) • Teachers can talk about quantity: “I have 4 pupils who …. And 6 who … ….

• (Will teacher recognize….?)

The presentation of the tasks is not only randomly generated.. At the very first contact a moderate problem is presented. According to the results more or less difficult tasks are following.. The competence level of the test subject is then estimated and after every task recalculated. This determines the difficulty of the next tasks.

1. estimate the competence level:

2. After every new solved or unsolved problem we choose a smooth way for adopting this first estimation of competence to the experience during the sessions

• Without any empirical data we decided to use the ranking for the tables as follows You´ll find this hierarchy in most didactical concepts: easy 1, 2, 4, 3, 5, 8, 6, 7, 9 difficult • we transformed these ranking in difficulty levels between 1 and 0. • We discussed to integrate a statistical founded ranking, but at this point we fear, the teachers would be somewhere confused about the results. I’ll speak about this problem later.

Stored Data
• The answers of the learners are marked with 0,1 or 2: 1 shows that the user knew the correct answer once 2 indicates that the student had two consecutive correct answers (this means a question is “well known”) 0 indicates, the last answer was incorrect (or this item was presented never before) Additional we store: used time, result, task no., ever presented

Selecting the next Item
We use a random number between 0 and 1 ot decide, which category is activited to generate the next multiplication problem: Therefore three cases are defined: • Case 1: If the random number is 0<x<0.05 than a wellknown question (marked with 2) is chosen. • Case 2: The random number is 0.05 > x >= 0.15 than a known question marked with 1 is chosen. • Case 3: The random number is x > 0.15 than an unknown question out of the extended and actual learning area is chosen.

Extended Area
• Extended area means the idea, that we choose items not only in the learning area, that means under the level of competence. • To produce some dynamic and the chance to get a higher level, we add now .15 to the actual estimation of the degree of competence of the student


Register (is simple!)

If you want to test this application you can use “no school” for an individual registration. If you want to administer a whole school and class lists … you should ask to send you an administration-account.


• The matrix at the left shows the history: The beige colour indicates “well known” results, the brown is “one right answer”. The rabbit comes from left to right to the carrot and catches one - if the pupil produces consecutive right answers.

If you point over with the mouse on the matrix, you see the multiplication fact behind the symbol. Download: 1. 2. trainer/id452707340?mt=8 3. s?id=at.tugraz.einmaleinstrainer

• • • • • • first research study was carried out at a primary school in Austria. Begin: summer semester 2011 42 pupils of the primary school Laubegg (age: 9-10). at least 4 weeks. Some of the learners ignored this time restriction and played the game again and again over months. Learners learned on computers at the school as well as on their personal computers at home. 12.926 answers where given which means that on average each learner answered 308 questions- they did 3.4 times the whole multiplication table. Bearing in mind that there was no real pressure from teacher’s side using the program it is a considerable pleasant high number. Furthermore it can be stated that pupils seemed to enjoy using the application or at least get not bored.

• •


We don‘t know
More than half of the learners did not reach the 100 percent level (= 90 items are well-known). Therefore we have to think about this group of learners: Perhaps they • didn´t get used to / have problems with the interface • do not know the necessary operations; are not able to solve the learning problem correctly • misinterpret an assignment • are distracted by the environment • are badly concentrated for several reasons. Could we gather more information to know more?

I´ll show here some graphs of the collected statstical data. We made the experience, that the teachers in our interviews are interested in very short compact information, overviews. We fear, that if we would produce too much information the teacher would than reject the entire system ….

Demotivated learner
One learner with a weak performance attracted our attention because of a very high number of trials (513). A detailed inspection showed that he did not work very intensively. In the first two tasks he/she failed, then eleven tasks were ok, his performance rose abruptly. However, afterwards, he continued approximately 400 times to wait the whole answering time without doing anything but asking for a new assignment.

Motivated Captain
The most diligent learner. In the beginning, the assignments were solved correctly, then some mistakes occurred, afterwards a learning process can be recognized and finally with some occasional mistakes the learner works on a high performance level. Obviously, the learner was highly motivated to deal with the assignments given by the program.

Medium Learner
In the beginning, the learner made mistakes in every second assignment (0.5), followed by 7 mistakes consecutively. This is the reason for the big decrease (0.15). Afterwards, the learner gave a number of right answers and the rate of correct answers increased back to 0.5. In the following phase an up and down can be seen till a number of right consecutive answers helps to reach a level of 0.7. But then the number of mistakes rose again and the rate went down to about 0.5.

Medium Learner 2

Weak Learner







Classified as 2 id156

1 11 21 31 41 51 61 71 81 91 101 111 121 131 141 151 161 171 181 191 201 211

• It is as easy as never before to collect data • We perceive much more details about the learners – the learning process – as never before!! • Teacher get precise information (class lists are coming soon) • This application was designed to test. Now we see, it can be effectivly used for learning and practise

Future Work
• closer look at the learners: perhaps more intelligent analyses of the data? – more data – more concepts? • Hints for Learners? • Special Results for Teachers • Alerts for Teachers • AND we are already working on the Mathe-Multi-Trainer (multi digit multiplication: )

We express our gratitude to the teachers of the primary school in Laubegg (Styria, Austria) as well as all participating school children. We are equally indebted to our funding agency “Internet Foundation Austria (IPA)” for supporting our ideas and helping us to work on the future of education.

Thank you! Martin Schön TU Graz – Austria