PotenziaMente: A Collection of Online Games for Learning Mathematics and Enhance Thought Processes

PotenziaMente: A Collection of Online Games for Learning Mathematics and Enhance Thought Processes

Roberto Trinchero (University of Turin, Italy)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-2122-0.ch007


Starting from the diffusion of information technology in schools, many computer games have been produced for the teaching and learning of mathematics. Most of these adopt a teaching approach that repurposes school situations embedded in game situations. The software object of the experiment described in this chapter was in fact to adopt a different approach. It proposes a series of games inspired to real-world situations in which the student must evolve a wide range of cognitive functions and mathematical contents. The games were constructed in line with objectives outlined by the Italian National Guidelines for the Curriculum (2007). The student perceives the interaction as a pure game interaction, but the effect is to increase their knowledge, skills, and competencies in mathematics, in addition to exercising a wide range of cognitive functions.
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As reported by John Hattie (2009) in his synthesis of meta-analysis about student achievement, there are factors that seem to have noticeable impact on learning outcomes. For the mathematics, the relationship between the Piagetian stage (logical operations, concrete, formal-operational) and achievement is very high (effect size d=1.28). The ability of perform basic logical operation (e.g. seriation ability, that is put in order a set of objects according to a property) is highly correlate with achievement. Knowing the ways in which the children think is very important to design effective instruction supported by technologies (Sweller, 2008) and working to enhance the basic cognitive ability is a way to improve scholastic achievement (Feuerstein, Rand, Rynders, 1988). Basic cognitive ability is involved in many scholastic activities, and good didactics and evaluation must take in account they (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001).

Another noticeable factor impacting on achievement is feedback. The power of feedback to support student in learning mathematics was highlighted by Baker, Gersten and Lee (2002). They found that the highest effects accrued when teachers provided feedback data or recommendation to student (effect size d=0.71), then for peer-assisted learning (d=0.62), explicit teacher-led instruction (d=0.65), direct instruction (d=0.65), and concrete feedback to parents (d=0.43). As they noted, one consistent finding was that providing teachers and students with specific information about how each student was performing (in the task proposed) seemed to enhance mathematics achievement consistently.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Experiential Learning: The process of making meaning from systematic reflection on direct experience.

Mathematics Education: The practice of teaching and learning mathematics, along with the associated scholarly research.

Game-Based Learning: A branch of serious games that deals with applications that have defined learning outcomes.

Diary of the Experiment: A diary that contains every detail that is possible to think about the experiment. It should contain details of every observation, every problem, every change (or lack of change), every question and thought that occurs during the experiment, and every idea that the experimenter can think of that relates to modifying or improving the experiment.

Before-After Experiment: Any research design in which one or more groups of randomly assigned subjects is observed or measured before and again after an experimental treatment is given or an event has occurred.

Cognitive Enhancement: May be defined as the amplification or extension of core capacities of the mind through improvement or augmentation of internal or external information processing systems.

Formative Assessment: A range of formal and informal assessment procedures employed by teachers during the learning process in order to modify teaching and learning activities to improve student attainment.

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