The effect of games on cognitive abilities and on attitudes toward mathematics Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/5h73q0352

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  • The purpose of this investigation was to determine if either of two selected commercial games, when used by seventh-grade mathematics teachers, would significantly improve students' (1) attitudes toward mathematics, (2) quantitative cognitive abilities, and (3) nonverbal cognitive abilities. Equations, a mathematics game, and Tac-Tickle, a strategy game, were chosen as representatives of commercial games available to classroom teachers. The instruments used to measure cognitive abilities and attitudes were the Quantitative and Nonverbal Batteries of the Cognitive Abilities Test (CAT), Level F and Dutton's Attitude Scale. The major research hypotheses were as follows: H₁: Student-participation in games will improve attitudes toward mathematics as measured by the Dutton Attitude Scale. H₂: Student-participation in games will increase quantitative cognitive abilities as measured by the Quantitative CAT. H₃: Student-participation in games will increase nonverbal cognitive abilities as measured by the Nonverbal CAT. In addition, subtests of the Quantitative and Nonverbal CAT Batteries were used to measure six minor hypotheses. A three-way analysis of covariance was employed to test the three major and six minor hypotheses. Pretest scores were used as the covariate. Seven F-values were calculated for each hypothesis to compare variations in adjusted posttest gains attributable to (1) sex, (2) school, (3) treatment, (4) sex-by-school, (5) sex-by-treatment, (6) school-by-treatment, and (7) sex-by-school-by-treatment. Subjects for the experiment were 182 students from nine seventh-grade mathematics classes in three junior high schools. One experienced mathematics teacher in each of the three schools assisted in the experiment. Each game was randomly assigned as a treatment variable to one of three classes taught by each teacher. Hence, each teacher instructed one control class, one Equations experimental class, and one Tac-Tickle experimental class. All nine classes were pretested with the Dutton Attitude Scale and the two batteries of the CAT. Students in the experimental classes played games for half the class period approximately every other day for six weeks. Conventional classroom lessons continued intermittently with game-instruction. At the conclusion of the experiment, all classes were posttested with the Dutton Attitude Scale and the two CAT batteries. Findings The 21 F-values for the three major hypotheses were not significant at the .05 level. Three F-values were found to be significant for the minor hypotheses. Differences in adjusted mean gain scores on the Equations Building subtest of the Quantitative CAT were significant for school and for school-by-treatment interaction. Also, school variability in adjusted mean gain scores on the Figure Synthesis subtest of the Nonverbal CAT was significant. As a further analysis not related to the hypotheses, pretest scores on the Dutton Attitude Scale and the two batteries of the CAT were used to identify the top 30 and bottom 30 percent of the students in the control group, in the Equations group, and in the Tac-Tickle group. F-Tests were used to compare variations in adjusted attitude and cognitive ability mean gain scores between the top three groups. The resulting F-values were not significant. The bottom 30 percent groups were also compared by the same procedure. Again, no significant differences were found. Finally, t-test score gain comparisons were made between the top 30 and bottom 30 percent within each of the three groups. The calculated t-values revealed no significant differences between top and bottom students on any of the three measures. The salient results of this investigation were as follows: 1. The intermittent use of games by actual classroom teachers was found to be as effective as conventional instruction in terms of increasing students' attitude and cognitive ability scores. 2. Game-participation did not produce significant boy-girl differences in attitude and cognitive ability scores. 3. Treatment comparisons between two types of commercial games revealed no significant differences in attitude and cognitive ability mean score gains. 4. The results of the study indicated that teacher variability was a significant factor in the learning of mathematics-equation comprehension and spatial relations through the use of games.
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