Engagement and collaboration in the effectiveness of games for learning primary school mathematics

AL-Washmi, Reem (2016) Engagement and collaboration in the effectiveness of games for learning primary school mathematics. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Since the arrival of the personal computer in the early 1980s people have been advocating the use of computer games in aiding teaching and learning. However the increasing prevalence of computers in the early years of the 21st century led to the introduction of the idea of the “digital native” – those who were born since the dawn of the age of the ubiquitous computer. It was then argued widely that this generation would now need to be taught using computer games and that conventional education was not working. This view has been modified since but there still exists arguments for the use of computer games in many areas of education. This thesis looks at the potential benefits of computer games in aiding the teaching of mathematics in primary schools. The particular focus of the research has been whether collaborative computer games if properly designed with the learning outcomes encoded in the game mechanic would be more valuable in promoting engagement with mathematics problem solving than other more conventional methods. A number of hypotheses were developed based on the current theories and designed to be tested for validity.

To carry out this investigation a number of studies have been undertaken. A literature review was focused on the methods used to teach mathematics in primary schools, the value of collaboration and the use of computer games in education. This was followed up with a study in a primary school to validate the basic findings from the literature review. A user centred design study began with a trial of a commercial game that was meant to promote collaboration in primary school children’s game play to ascertain what components best promoted collaboration. Interviews with teachers and pupils were also used to develop the ideas behind a game that was suitably themed for the age group. This was then pilot tested for playability and usability along with a dice game that had been adapted from some commercially available games for use in a later controlled experiment in which the effectiveness of the game designed was tested against the control with groups of children from the UK Key Stage 2 (7 to 11 year olds).

The hypotheses were evaluated against the results of the controlled experiment. The idea that computer games themselves would always work in promoting learning were disproved but the value of games (both computer and non-computer games) as an adjunct to conventional teaching in collaborative settings was shown to be valuable in promoting engagement with mathematics. It was also clear that these games promoted learning among those who were in the group of low achievers in mathematics.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Hopkins, Gail
Blanchfield, Peter
Subjects: Q Science > QA Mathematics
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Science > School of Computer Science
Item ID: 33780
Depositing User: Alwashmi, Reem
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2016 10:17
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2016 09:56
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/33780

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