Game playing can develop a positive attitude towards Mathematics for children.

Posted: February 18, 2013 in Uncategorized


This week I have picked a topic from one of the suggested websites, and after reading through them, I feel this is the one I am most comfortable with. Mathematics is a key influence in our everyday lives, without it, simple tasks will be limited and then reduce the capabilities of being able to succeed. According to Peter Stanford (2012) many students have a poor image of mathematics, and even Michael Gove (Educational Secretary for the UK) is taking note as he has suggested that within the next decade, a new goal set for all students should be that they are educated in mathematics to at least eighteen years, instead of sixteen current years. This is also being discussed by the house of Lords, whose Science and Technology committee are stressing the importance of math skills both for future job opportunities as more and more employers are demanding good mathematic skills at undergraduate level and postgraduate level in order to keep the economy growing (Jha, 2012).


So back on topic, how can game playing bring a positive attitude towards mathematics? Game playing in general has been accepted as beneficial, and promotes social interaction through talking and listening to other students while participating in these activities. (Trafton & Bloom, 1990) If this is true, shouldn’t this give students maximum enjoyment out of mathematics if we associated it with games?  Bragg (2003) used a qualitative data collection method in order to fully gain the students perspective of mathematic learning and answer these questions.  The findings all agreed with the research which concluded the games were a fun and motivating way of learning, however they did bring some good positive and negative feedback to this method of teaching for example:


I: Has there been a time that you hated math? Tell me about it.

Coco: Well it’s like really really easy stuff like you already know it and Mr. B keeps on explaining and explaining it because there are people in the grade who don’t understand it. And you just want to get on with it except he keeps explaining it and it’s too easy.


This statement highlighted that there were clear limitations to this method of teaching, as her teacher classified Coco as an above average 5th grader. However if a within groups design was implemented in the classroom this would not be an issue as this would then meet the needs of each and every student in that classroom, making it simpler for the children who struggle, and advanced for the more capable students. This structure of teaching is more often used in at primary schools and has been found to be very effective (Davidson, 2013).


The advantages of this research showed that children perceived themselves as learning more when they were having fun with mathematic based games. Games may have the potential to focus on mathematics, and make it fun in an activity that may increase the rate of learning, although there isn’t any data from this study suggests this, the prediction from the children’s perspective shows a positive signs (Bragg 2003). Although I have discussed what the students feel, what about the effectiveness of learning using these games?


A study conducted by Akinsola and Animasahun (2007) however does have conclusive data and studied traditional teaching methods (control), compared to game based teaching methods (Experimental) in two different Nigerian schools. The findings again supported a difference in the two methods of teaching. Pre test there were no differences between groups, however posttest there were significances. The findings therefore link up to those of Bragg (2003) and supports the idea that game based materials engage the students actively in mathematic tasks and using a fun activities increases learning as compared to traditional teaching methods. He also suggested that game simulation should be adopted more within schools as it sets more achievable goals and therefore resulting in a stronger liking for mathematics as a subject.


Comparing the main two research bodies discussed (Bragg, Akinsola) it can be seen that one was qualitative and the other quantitative, we can see that the main findings are seen to be extremely similar by the way students perceive, enjoy and learn Mathematics and enjoy it through games (Bragg, 2003). It is also shown that the results of using game-simulation mathematics in secondary schools and the learning improvements as compared to traditional teaching. These two studies, although different in methods and contents, have shown the same results in two different ways  and concepts strengthens any argument that game playing can improve a child’s mathematic skills and improve their enjoyment of the subject, thus reaping the long term benefits.


Stanford, P. (2012, June 05). Hay Festival 2012: Peter Stanford on the importance of maths. The Telegraph. Retrieved from


Gove says ‘vast majority’ should study maths to 18 (2011, June 29). BBC: Education and Family. Retrieved from

Jha, Alok. (2012, July 24). Make maths compulsory for all A level students, say Lords. Guardian. Retrieved from:


Davidson. H. (2013). Ability Grouping. The Gale Group. Retrieved from


Bragg, L. (2003) Childrens Perspectives on Mathematics and Game Playing. Deakin University. Retrieved from:


Akinsola M. K., Animasahun I. A. (2007). The effect of simulation-games environment on students achievement in and attitudes to mathematics in secondary schools. Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology. Retrieved from :

Here is the Talk linked to this Blog:

  1. psuc18 says:

    Hi David! Interesting topic to write about this week! I can completely understand the point that you raise about the advantages of attempting to make learning a fun experience. There have been many criticisms on the effect that video games has on young children but this is a brilliant example of how education can benefit from them. Greenfield, DeWinstanley, Kilpatrick & Kaye (1994) found that five hours of play on a particular video game produced a significant decrease in the response times of their participants. However Squire (2003) argues that the cognitive potential of video games have been widely ignored by educators and believes that contemporary developments in gaming can suggest powerful new opportunities for education. Aguilera & Mendiz (2003) also concluded that video games have the educational potential of being teaching and learning tools.
    I also agree that educators should realise the potential of video games instead of viewing them as a no-go area. If learning is made to be enjoyable children are much more likely to participate in educational activities, therefore forming a specific programme that correlates learning and gaming for children is something that I can only imagine to be beneficial!


    Aguilera, M., Mendiz, A. (2003). Video games and education: (Education in the Face of a “Parallel School”). Computers in Entertainment (CIE). 1. 1. 1.

    Greenfield, P. M., DeWinstanley, P., Kilpatrick, H., Kaye, D. (1994). Action video games and informal education: Effects on strategies for dividing visual attention. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology. 15. 1. 105-123.

    Squire, K. (2003). Video games in education. Computers in Entertainment, 2(1), 10. Citeseer. Retrieved from

  2. Catherine says:

    I think it’s very important to make learning fun! This is essential from a young age through to University. If it’s not fun, why would we want to attend school? So considering many would think mathematics is a very boring subject, making it fun for students would potentially change their perception of this. Game playing is a perfect way to do this; it grabs students’ attention and ensures that participation occurs. They won’t tend to sit back and pretend to listen with the use of game playing!

    A report on the educational use of games by McFarlane, Sparrowhawk and Heald has noted many benefits for gaming within the educational system. These include the fact that the child’s attention is captured more, a motivation to learn is present and they have the ability to respond to what they learn in various ways. Back to your point about mathematics; they also reported that gaming has an effect on the child’s mathematical development. This is due to the fact that they can use everyday words and examples to understand complex problems within the subject.
    Although the traditional view of games in the classroom would enhance communication between students and ensure more participation, with technology increasing at a rapid rate, game playing in the classroom is now slowly moving towards more on the computers and even IPads. In the previous reported I mentioned, digital games included The Sims, Bob the Builder and Racing Championship. Parents noted that even when the children weren’t playing these games, they were discussing with each other what they had learnt previously.

    While considering all the research to support the idea for game playing in education (although there are probably some against this idea), it got me thinking about my experiences. The most memorable work and learning I have experiences are the ones that have been hands on. The ones which have involved myself and others participating in some sort of activity; from simple classroom games such as quizzes to make it fun, and even educational bingo(!) to discussions and debates with others. Who would have thought learning could be so fun!

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