We conducted a study to evaluate the usefulness of a math game competition for engaging, assessing, and training rational numbers in schools. In particular, we investigated whether playing a digital number line based Semideus game would improve students’ magnitude understanding of rational numbers and whether playing behavior of a competition can be used for assessment purposes. Finnish fourth (n = 59) and sixth-graders (n = 105) participated in a math game competition relying on intra-classroom cooperation and inter-classroom competition. Students were allowed to play the game as much as they wanted during a three-week period in order to improve their teams’ (classes) rank in the competition and improve their rational number knowledge at the same time. Participants were able to check the status of the competition online. Results indicated that students benefited significantly from participating in the math game competition with respect to rational number knowledge. In particular, the Semideus game was effective with students who started with lower rational number knowledge. Overall, the study demonstrated that math game competitions seem to be a useful approach to assess and support the development of students’ math knowledge.
Furthermore, one aim of the study was to test several new mechanics – skills that can be activated with in-game currency. Some of the skills made the task easier, for example by removing enemies or time pressure while others provided direct assistance to the magnitude estimation itself. The skills seemed to work well and engaged the students.
More detailed results of the study will be published in scientific publications during 2017.