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Game Based Learning: Incorporating games in learning (Mathematics)

Updated on March 8, 2018
Patrick Patrick profile image

Patrick has been working as a freelance writer for the past 3 years

Mathematics and game based learning

When it comes to mathematics, students often experience difficulties understanding the concepts, which makes it difficult to effectively work through problems or explain the process they used to arrive at given answers. By using video games and a few other tools, it would be possible to help improve memory, enhance attention and ultimately help students develop a better understanding of mathematics concepts. Here, I will explain how integrating game-based learning in the teaching and using games to evaluate student improvement will help in teaching more effectively and help students get a better understanding of mathematics concepts.

Game Based Learning

Games can improve learning
Games can improve learning | Source

Paying attention

Kids tend to be very attentive when playing games (video games etc). A number of new games are being developed to use this strength of games to help student learn and understand various mathematical processes and concepts. In the process, there is a likelihood that students will also grow to appreciate and develop an interest in mathematics in general.

Using game based learning


One of the basic aspects of video games is that they require that the student follows a given set of strategies in order to achieve given goals. To achieve these goals (reaching new levels etc) the student has to use given strategies, which in turn develops a habit as they repeat the process time and again. Here, some of the benefits of video games include capturing the attention of the student given that the student is highly focused on achieving given goals and enhancing control as the student repeats the process again and again and developing a habit through repetition . By applying these strengths in teaching, it will be possible to help students be well able to better understand mathematics processes and concepts, which in turn can increase their interest and understanding of mathematics in general.


By using such games as Math blaster, either online or installed on a computer/mobile phone, it is possible to combine games with class teaching to help students understand mathematics concepts. Once the teacher/instructor introduces the topic and provides an introduction to the students, then they are ready to introduce the game (math blaster etc). Here, students not only get to learn from the teacher, but also the technology being used as a form of computer-assisted instruction (Slavin, Lake and Groff, 2010) where the students get to learn of the various strategies they can use to achieve given specified goals (answers). Games such as Math blaster are particularly useful for younger K-12 students given that they combine enjoyable adventure games with learning (algebra). In this game, for instance, the student uses given strategies to have a commander escape from a planet in which he is stranded. The game therefore captures the attention of the students and keeps them focused on the strategies they need to help the commander escape. By repeating this a few times, the students will develop a habit where they understand what they need to do in order to get certain results thereby developing a deeper understanding of the concept of solving given mathematics problems.

More than just a game

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Major benefits of games in learning

Increased attention

Developing habit

Interactive

Breaking monotony

Play and learn


Through the integration of the game in the course study, there is transfer of cognitive and psychomotor capabilities to learning mathematical concepts. In addition to being guided by the teacher, students also get to play with their peers, which allows them to help each other in various phases of the game, which can be highly beneficial given that they can explain various processes in simpler terms thereby even helping group members who may have had difficulties understanding the teacher.

Teaching can also be improved by using games for evaluation. With game-based learning., it is possible for the teacher or educators to evaluate students without interrupting them as they play. This type of evaluation (stealth evaluation) proves more useful given that it will allow the teacher to assess how students are engaging in the game, whether they seem to enjoy it or not and their general attitudes as they interact with other students in the process. By collecting data about the attitudes of the students and how they interact as well as assessing whether their understanding of mathematical concepts has improved, teachers will be well able to identify any areas that students find challenging and assist them. According to Tobias, Fletcher and Wind (2014) evaluation using games allows the teachers to fully assess/evaluate the student without affecting their concentration or causing them to be anxious. With other methods of evaluation that tend to interrupt the students, students may feel a little anxious because they have to interact with the teacher during class activities such as tests. This may affect their focus and ultimately the results. However, using game-based learning, the teacher/instructor gets to fully evaluate them and their performance to get real results of the student’s experience and performance.


Learning

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Evaluation


During the integration and evaluation process, teachers may incorporate the inquiry, communication, construction, and expression framework (ICCE). This method provides an effective structure that not only allows the student to assess/evaluate the students and their experiences, but also the game in order to determine the strengths and limitations (what it lacks) for better results. In the inquiry phase, teachers will get to learn of any questions or problems raised by students (and even the teacher him/herself) having interacted with the game. During the communication phase, the teacher gets to not only assess how students interact with the games, but also with their peers. Here, communication between the students also allows explain areas in which they are experiencing difficulties, discuss about the strategies and help each other. During construction, the teacher can evaluates and even help the students to use the game (s) to demonstrate how well they understand mathematical concepts.

Having played the game, the students can now demonstrate what they have leaned by solving given mathematical problems in class and explaining the processes they used to arrive at given answers. This also allows the teachers to determine how much the students have learned and gained from the game. Here, students get to express themselves and the understanding they have constructed from their experience playing the game. Teachers/instructors therefore have an important role to play not only by teaching the mathematical concepts and introducing students to the game, but also evaluating the game itself and students’ performance to determine whether they improve. This makes it possible to determine what to add to the game and how to assist students to learn more from the game.


Conclusion


Because of the strengths of games (students’ attention and concentration, improved memory etc) their incorporation in classroom learning (game-based learning) can significantly help improve learning on the part of student. Here, the teachers play an important part in facilitating the process and evaluating both the game and students to determine areas that require improvement. In the process, the teacher gets to improve the learning environment as a whole by both improving given limitations of the game and guiding the students in areas they face difficulties. By playing these games, students will over time get to improve their memories of given strategies to solve given problems and even be able to use these strategies to understand mathematical concepts. Here, the biggest advantage is that students develop habits that allow them to not only learn given concepts, but also develop an interest of solving other problems in the course. By developing these habits, students will gradually develop an interest in learning and solving more problems in the subject.


Game Based learning

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© 2018 Patrick

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