Games and Math Teaching: the power of games to improve logical thinking

Did you know that games can improve the ability to learn math? Indeed, having an engaged and performing class is a big challenge in Brazil where over 70% of 15 -16-year-olds cannot solve simple problems involving numbers. Data are from 2016 from the International Student Assessment Program (Pisa).

Innovative teaching techniques can be great allies in addressing this problem. With gamification, Brazilian schools have been able to advance an average of 30% in student performance in mathematics.

That happens because games give students the freedom to learn at their own pace, stimulate deep focus, enhance understanding and arouse interest. In addition, they help teachers work on Exact Science content in a lighter, more playful and creative way.

In this post, learn how to use the power of games in your classroom.

What is gamification

First of, it is important to understand what gamification is. The method consists in the strategic use of game elements and design outside their context, as defined by University of Pennsylvania professor Kevin Werbach.

More than just playing games or playing activities in class, gamifying is introducing game-specific logic such as difficulty levels, missions and avatars.

So called digital natives, students in schools today belong to a generation that is born in the digital context (learn more about Generation Z). Gamification helps to arouse interest by using familiar language.

It also has benefits such as encouraging intense concentration, confidence that great results can be achieved, team spirit, empathy, acceptance of failure, and strategic vision.

Allies for Math Teaching

According to Érica Stamato, psychopedagogue and executive director of EducaCross, a game platform for learning math, games are ideal for teaching subjects because they help students develop logical skills. It is trained to recognize patterns, understand sequences, identify what is implied, among others.

And it’s not just about math: logical-mathematical thinking also helps to develop decision-making and deductive thinking skills, enhances language and writing, and even influences students self-esteem.

How to gamify?

Technological and digital resources are not required to put gamification into practice, nor is it necessary to have programming and designing skills. To gamify, you only need to develop “a critical stance towards what you know about games or what you experience while playing,” according to article by researchers Thaís Andreetti, Sidnéia Egido and Luciane dos Santos.

It is a good idea to venture out into the most popular current games among students and draw from them aspects that can be used to create innovative math teaching experiences. One Bahia teacher, for example, used the game Angry Birds to pin the content of related and quadratic functions.

Produce experiences for students using elements such as:

  • Performance Score

  • Difficulty levels

  • Progression

  • Missions

  • Avatars (images or icons representing each player)

  • Resource Collection

  • Social graph (graphical feature that shows against whom the player is competing and their status within the game)

In order for that to work, the student must believe in the purpose of the game and agree to its rules.

EducaCross: a platform for teaching math through games

A map of an island with nonlinear paths, full of quests to complete. This is how the EducaCross platform looks like, a prominent startup at StartSe EdTech Conference 2019, an event that discussed the future of education in the internet age.

It is a gamification solution for the early years of elementary school, with mission-based math games. The technology even analyzes student data according to evaluative matrices, showing the teacher how the classes are progressing.

According to Érica Stamato, the great potential of mathematics instruction games was demonstrated during research conducted in partnership with FAPESP (São Paulo State Research Support Foundation). “We had an interesting case from a student when we compared notebook and game math problem solving. He hit only 33% of the issues on paper, but on the platform got 93% performance, ”he says. On average, student performance gains in schools are 30%.

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