- Two mathematical computer games, POE and EQUATIONS, were used to
test the effects of games as learning aids in a university entry-level
intermediate algebra course. Specifically, this study investigated
whether use of these games would significantly increase student achievement
in the course and improve student attitude toward mathematics.
EQUATIONS is a nonsimulation mathematical game in which the algorithms
of dealing with fundamental operations of mathematics are incorporated
into the rules of the game. The computer version of EQUATIONS
provides an opportunity for the student to play against a computer
rather than another student. POE is a computerized strategy game
designed to aid the student in learning to use the computer and to
learn the rules for EQUATIONS.
The hypotheses for this study, in condensed form, stated the following:
Mathematical computer games, POE and EQUATIONS, will significantly
increase student achievement in the university entry-level
intermediate algebra course, will improve student attitude toward
mathematics, and will significantly increase student achievement in
predetermined specific skill areas.
One hundred forty-three students who were enrolled in the large
lecture-recitation section of Mth 95: Intermediate Algebra I at
Oregon State University, winter term, 1980, were randomly assigned to
the four Solomon groups. Following the expected student withdrawal in
the first three weeks of classes, 89 students remained. Students in
the experimental groups were trained to use the computer and play POE
and EQUATIONS in two short training sessions. After playing POE for
two weeks, students played EQUATIONS for the remaining six weeks of
Students in the two pretest groups were pretested with Dutton's
Attitude Scale and one form of the course final examination. All
students were posttested with Dutton's Attitude Scale and an equivalent
form of the course final examination. Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)
scores were available for approximately two-thirds of the sample.
The results of the analysis of the achievement posttest scores,
after adjustments for initial differences with the achievement pretest
scores, indicated the games treatment did not significantly increase
student achievement at the .05 level. However, this analysis did
suggest a games treatment trend (p=.10). SAT data, obtained for a subset
of the sample, provided additional investigation of this apparent
trend. Analysis of the achievement posttest scores of the SAT subgroups,
after initial adjustments for achievement pretest and SAT
scores, indicated the mathematics portion of SAT was a significant
(p=.005) predictor of posttest achievement. These data did not support
the games treatment trend. Additional descriptive analysis
using SAT data, suggested the initial withdrawal of students may
have influenced the achievement posttest means. This bias may have
created the appearance of a games treatment trend. In conclusion,
the data in this study suggested the mathematical computer games,
POE and EQUATIONS, did not significantly increase student achievement
in this sample at the .05 level.
Analysis of subscores from the achievement posttest did not
find significant (at the .05 level) increases in student achievement
in the predetermined specific skill areas.
The results of the analysis of the attitude data showed no significant
(at the .05 level) improvement in attitudes toward mathematics.
The attitude pretest score was found to be a significant
(p=.003) predictor of the attitude posttest score.
Investigation of the amount of computer time used per week by
students in the treatment groups indicated only 12 of 41 students
worked with the computer games more than four weeks. The achievement
of these 12 students was highly correlated with their time
spent on the computer. These data illustrated the student response
in this sample to the games as an additional assignment.