Evaluating the effectiveness of a game-based rational number training

Study 1: Recently, we published a new open access article in Computers & Education journal in which we studied the effectiveness of the beta version of the Semideus School rational number game. In the study, Ninety-five fourth graders were assigned to either a game-based training group (n = 54) who played a digital Semideus School game for five 30-minutes sessions or a control group (n = 41) who attended regular math curriculum. Conceptual rational number knowledge was assessed in a pre- and posttest session. Additionally, the game groups’ playing behavior was evaluated. Results indicated that the game-based training group improved their conceptual rational number knowledge significantly more strongly than the control group. In particular, improvement of the game-based training group was driven by significant performance increases in number magnitude estimation and ordering tasks. Moreover, results revealed that in-game metrics, such as overall game performance and maximum level achieved provided valid information about students’ conceptual rational number knowledge at posttest. Therefore, results of the current study not only suggest that aspects of conceptual rational number knowledge can be improved by a game-based training but also that in-game metrics provide crucial indicators for learning.

Kiili, K., Moeller, K., & Ninaus, M. (2018). Evaluating the effectiveness of a game-based rational number training – In-game metrics as learning indicators, Computers & Education, Volume 120, 2018, 13-28. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2018.01.012

Study 2: Based on the study 1 we made some changes in the game and conducted a new study. We were particularly interested in evaluating the effectiveness of a new feedback mechanism implemented into comparison tasks. The new version, the official Semideus School  game, provided feedback of compared magnitudes also as bar charts or number line visualizations to trigger reflective processes on compared magnitudes and to foster the development of rational number understanding. We expected that this new visual feedback channel would facilitate learning gains in comparison tasks. 70 Finnish 5th graders played the game approximately 2.5 hours. As we expected, a paired t-test showed that students’ comparison performance was significantly higher in posttest (M=92.60%, SE=1.20) than in the pretest (M=76.97, SE=2.54), t(69)=6.855, p<.001, Cohen’s d=.94, indicating that the new implementation of our comparison task worked well.


Professor of game-based learning at Tampere University

Posted in Game-based learning, Math games, Publications

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