Theses Doctoral

The Effects of Mathematical Game Play on the Cognitive and Affective Development of Pre-Secondary Students

Galarza, Patrick David

Society has consistently sought means of improving extant effective tools and designing new effective tools for educational purposes. With the consistent progression of technology, mathematical games—especially mathematical educational video games—stand out as potentially powerful mediums for helping new mathematics learners make sense of formal mathematical ideas. The aim of this study was to understand the effects that the introduction and use of a specific mathematical video game had for the cognitive, affective, and content-retentive learning outcomes of eighth graders studying elementary algebra for the first time. The three research questions guiding the study were the following: 1) How does integrating mathematical game play into a traditional eighth grade algebra curriculum impact students' cognitive learning outcomes in elementary algebra?; 2) How does integrating mathematical game play into a traditional eighth grade algebra curriculum impact students' affective outcomes about both mathematics in general and algebra specifically?; 3) How does integrating mathematical game play into a traditional eighth grade algebra curriculum impact students' content retention in elementary algebra? In order to realistically implement mathematical educational games in typical mathematics classrooms, a holistic understanding of such games’ effects must be understood through research addressing several aspects of students’ learning experiences.

This study utilized a mixed methodology, drawing both quantitative and qualitative data from instruments administered to a class of eighth graders split into control and treatment groups. Quantitative data primarily entailed a series of three short examinations that tested students on their algebraic equation-solving content knowledge. Some additional metrics from game play data were recorded and discussed as quantitative data by the principal researcher. Qualitative data primarily entailed two series of interviews—one in two parts and one in three parts—and one questionnaire. Some additional observations of student interactions were also recorded and discussed as qualitative data by the principal researcher. Data on student cognition and student affect were collected at the beginning, middle, and end of the treatment. Data on student content retention were collected following a one-month recess after the treatment.

This research suggests nine attributes that typified the mathematical game play experience found in this study: three attributes regarded student cognition, four attributes regarded student affect, and two attributes regarded student content retention. Additionally, the principal researcher designed and discussed a framework for assessing the cognitive mappings formed by student game players between content featured in mathematical game play and content of formal mathematical ideas. In analyzing these mappings, the principal researcher highlighted types of interspatial cognitive connections that proved to be either fruitless or, in fact, detrimental to student game players, damaging proper development and/or understanding of formal mathematical ideas. The study’s results have implications for informing future considerations of educational game design and the practical implementation of educational games as pedagogical tools within classrooms.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Mathematics Education
Thesis Advisors
Wasserman, Nicholas Henning
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
February 15, 2019