Game-enhanced Mathematics Learning for Pre-service Primary School Teachers

Maria Meletiou-Mavrotheris European University Cyprus

Efstathios Mavrotheris Open University of Cyprus

Presentation Overview
Introduction Study Overview Main Findings Instructional and Research Implications

Introduction .

2008) Many educational designers (e. 2006. Shaffer. 2001. and help raise their educational standards . Prensky.g..Introduction With international markets for computer games comparable with markets for movies and music. 2006) see computer games as a possible solution to the problem of “Net Generation‟s” disengagement with traditional instruction Widespread interest in games as learning tools that can address students‟ declining interest in key mathematics and science topics and in science careers. gaming has become a mainstream activity with prominent presence in students‟ daily life (Prensky. Lenhart et al.

2007) Although much of research on learning effectiveness of gaming is still inconclusive.g. thus promoting collaborative learning through teaming up with other players (Ketelhut.. 2010. & Schifter. Bragg. 2011) Activate students‟ prior knowledge and provide immediate feedback and assessment of progress (Oblinger. 2011) . 2008) Offer immersive environments that are naturally experiential and often impossible to access any other way (Ketelhut.g. Cavanagh.Potential Benefits of games Can captivate students‟ attention. there is strong evidence that appropriately designed educational games have the potential to enhance children‟s learning of mathematics (e. 2004) Often provide social environments with communities of practice around the game. Ketelhut et al. 2007). & Schifter. contributing to increased motivation and engagement with mathematics (Lopez-Moreto & Lopez. and to decrease the achievement gaps between students (e.

supporting and scaffolding pupils. and providing appropriate feedback Thus. the provision of high quality teacher training on the educational applications of games is of paramount importance to their effective integration in classroom settings . choosing high quality educational games. attitudes. and experiences of teachers with respect to games Implementing game-enhanced learning in the classroom can be a challenge for teachers. requiring skills that are not necessarily addressed in current pre-service teacher education practices Teachers need to be proactive.Need for teacher training Educational games‟ successful deployment in mathematics classrooms is highly dependent upon the knowledge.

Study Overview .

while at the same time also investigating.Study Aim A teaching experiment within an undergraduate mathematics education course targeting primary school teachers Study aimed at promoting. pre-service teachers' efficacy in effectively selecting and integrating digital games within the mathematics curriculum .

Scope and Context of Study A case study of a group of 13 pre-service primary school teachers (10 females. Emphasis on enriching technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) of mathematics (Mishra & Koehler. 3 males) enrolled in the undergraduate methods course Integration of Contemporary Technologies in the Teaching of Mathematics Students mostly in final year of studies. Mean age around 22 years Course designed to offer high-quality teacher training on effective integration of technology with core curricular ideas. 2006) .

but should be accompanied with emphasis on how technology relates to pedagogy and content Aim is to move teachers beyond technocentric strategies that focus on technology rather than learning (Harris. & Koehler. and content Teacher ICT training cannot be treated as context-free. Mishra. pedagogy.Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) Conceptual Framework Builds on Shulman‟s (1986) idea of Pedagogical Content Knowledge Emphasizes the importance of developing integrated and interdependent understanding of three primary forms of knowledge: technology. 2009) .

and for selecting games with pedagogically-sound design features .Scope and Context of Study Inclusion of 3-week unit (9 hours) on game-enhanced learning Introduction to the rational and context for employing digital games in mathematics classrooms Experiencing of some of the ways in which online educational games could help students internalize key mathematical concepts across the school curriculum and improve their attitudes towards the subject Familiarization with the design principles for constructivist gaming environments (Munoz-Rosario & Widmeyer. 2009) Emphasis on the development of skills for properly evaluating educational games available online.

Instruments. Data Collection and Analysis Procedures Multiple forms of assessment to collect and document evidence of changes in pre-service teachers‟ TPACK and attitudes towards gameenhanced mathematics instruction: A pre-survey (n=13) to provide baseline information regarding pre-service teachers‟ prior experiences and attitudes towards game-based mathematics learning Individual follow-up interviews (n=5) Video-records of group activities Samples of pre-service teacher work Classroom observation .

Study Findings .

g.Prior Experiences and Attitudes towards Games Majority of participants were quite facile with digital games Considerable experience with both single player games (e. Soulcalibur). but 2 spent at least 10 hours Everyone agreed that games should be considered as worthy of consideration in the classroom Everyone planned to utilize gaming in their teaching . and with multiplayer games available on Facebook (e.g. Bubble Island) Playing of games an important leisure time activity for almost all of the pre-service teachers 9 teachers reported playing games on a daily or weekly basis in their spare time. Diamond Dash. Temple Run. while 2 reported playing games “a few times per month” Most spent 4-6 hours per week on games. Pro Evolution Soccer.

They all love playing electronic games at home... .Prior Experiences and Attitudes towards Games Despite positive attitudes and extensive prior experience and knowledge of playing games for their own leisure. participants had very limited understanding of the educational potential of games. Most commonly cited reasons for using games were to increase students‟ motivation and engagement: It’s more fun for children. and of how to implement game-based mathematics instruction Viewed games mainly as a useful aid for making mathematics instruction more joyful. Gaming in the classroom provides a strong incentive for children to actively participate in the learning process.

I believe that games should be used at the completion of a unit for students to practice what they have been taught The teacher can use games at the completion of a lesson for summative evaluation purposes. complex and scaffolded (Gee. 2003) educational game designed to help students build higher order mathematical problem-solving skills .Prior Experiences and Attitudes towards Games A restricted view of games that seems to have stemmed from the fact that their past exposure to digital educational games in mathematics had been limited to drill-and-practice ones: I don’t think it would be a good idea to use digital games for introducing a new concept or idea. in order to see whether his/her learning objectives have been achieved None of the teachers had ever been exposed to a challenging.

to properly identify their advantages and disadvantages . 2009) Improved ability to assess the educative power of different games. feedback from each other and reflection. helped teachers gain better understanding of how digital games could be integrated into the mathematics curriculum Moved beyond the instrumental view of games as “providing the „fun‟ incentive for young people to pay attention in lessons” (Williamson.Nature of Teaching Experiment Critical introduction into the potential and challenges of using computer games in mathematics instruction Pre-service teachers worked in group activities to explore a variety of mathematical concepts using online educational games Experimentation with a range of games platforms and software.

approached the task: After experimenting with several games. from which they had to select two games: a good example of a high quality mathematics education game. George and Anna selected “Crack Hacker’s Safe” as a good example of a high quality educational game. 2009) . Recognized need for educational games to combine playfulness with instructional soundness (McDaniel & Telep.Example: “Evaluation of educational games” task Pre-service teachers worked in groups to compare and contrast different online educational games Provided with a long list of different educational games freely available online. and “Tumbletown Mathletics” as a poor example Based their evaluation on important technical and pedagogical considerations. and a poor example Had to write a report justifying the rationale for their choices We describe how two of the study participants. George and Anna.

an award-winning.A good example of a high quality educational game: “Crack Hacker’s Safe” Online Game Found on Cyberchase. number and color patterns to crack the code and open the lock Game aims at building students‟ algebraic reasoning through the identification of both growing and shrinking patterns Children can play the game individually or with friends and classmates . players “must help Digit crack the lock on Hacker's safe”. research-based website offered by Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) Cyberchase website has several dynamic web games packed with mystery. humor. Must complete a sequence of shape. and action that can help children build strong mathematics and problem-solving skills while exploring their world In “Crack Hacker‟s Safe”.

“Crack Hacker’s Safe” Online Game .

This is an interesting and challenging scenario that can easily attract children’s attention and increase their motivation. Children assume the role of a hacker and they try to find the right combinations to unlock the safe.” A good scenario: “The game does not simply ask students to recognize some mathematical patterns.Reasons for positively evaluating “Crack Hacker’s Safe” A user-friendly game interface. developing students‟ critical thinking and problem solving skills .” Focus on high level mathematics learning rather than on factual recall. number and color patterns to crack Hacker's safe. A Help section to assist children that require extra help Addressing of important mathematical content and concepts Clear goals and objectives to be accomplished by the player in order to complete the game: “Children aim at completing a series of shape. with well designed graphics and easy to learn game functionalities.

children need to decode complicated patterns that combine numbers. colors. if the game is played in class. .Reasons for positively evaluating “Crack Hacker’s Safe” Provision of a challenging problem-solving environment for children Immediate and appropriate feedback after each student attempt. Provision. Winning cannot be the result of random selection. but has to be based on real understanding of the underlying patterns” The game can support collaboration and group work: “The teacher can ask children to play the game in pairs to promote teamwork” The game can support competition: “Although the game interface is not multiplayer. then the teacher can increase students’ motivation by asking them to work in pairs. with the winning team being the one that accomplishes to unlock the safe first”. and shapes. of hints to help the player solve the problem Players are recognized as winners only if important learning takes place: “To find the right combination and open the safe. if necessary.

and making measurements The goal is for children to beat their last score . finding fractions.A poor example of a high quality educational game: “Tumbetown Mathletics” Online Game Comprised of five “mini-games” which aim to help children develop their numeration and measurement skills by practicing mathematics “in a fun and exciting way” Based on the Ontario school curriculum Children accumulate points through mathematical activities such as ordering numbers. adding and subtracting numbers.

“Tumbetown Mathletics” Online Game .

” The game can only be played individually.” .” Not based on any scenario: “The game does not have any plot. No other feedback is provided to help children understand why they are wrong.Reasons for negatively evaluating “Tumbetown Mathletics” No proper feedback: “When the player gives a wrong answer.” Finding the right answer can be based on random factors: “The questions posed by the game are multiple choice questions with only two possible choices. so children can get the right answer by chance. so it can be used for drill-and-practice. but not for building problem solving skills. thus there is no opportunity for collaboration and/or competition among children. All the child does is to try to beat the score they got the previous time. It is not motivating and children will get bored easily. the system just lets them know their answer is wrong. Drill-and-practice: “Assesses only procedural knowledge.” Not challenging or engaging: “The game is too easy.

Instructional and Research Implications .

2009).g.. and to develop effective pedagogies for game-enhanced learning .Instructional Implications Findings corroborate with research literature which indicates that most teachers have positive attitudes towards games but lack appreciation of their true potential for transforming mathematics teaching and learning (e. Barbour & Evans. Koh et al.g. 2006. Williamson. Can & Cagiltay. 2012) Other studies have also found that teachers lack vision and personal experience of what game-enhanced instruction could look like (e. tend to view games as instructional tools to be mainly used for motivational purposes (e. 2009) Urgent need for high quality professional training at both initial and inservice teacher training stage to help teachers move beyond their restricted views of digital games as motivational tools.g.

2006) A follow-up study tracked some of the participants into their teaching practice placements.Research Implications More research is needed to advance our understanding of the ways in which games can be integrated into the mathematics learning process to maximize their learning potential Future effect studies of digital games ought to take place in regular classroom settings in order to determine the actual potential of games as learning tools (Van Eck. Analysis of the collected data will allow us to evaluate the effect of pre-service teachers‟ experiences with gameenhanced mathematics learning on actual classroom performance .

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