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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Designing game-based interactive mathematics learning environments for children Song, Zhenyu

Abstract

With the tremendous growth of the use of computers in schools, sound research is needed on how to design interactive learning environments that effectively help children by promoting reflective cognition and better learning. The research described in this thesis addresses the following questions in designing interactive mathematics learning environments for children: a) How should a learning environment motivate children to explore the underlying mathematical concepts? b) How should the user interface be designed to support children's learning of mathematical concepts? c) What are some design features that are effective in promoting reflective cognition and better learning? d) How should a learning environment meet children's affective needs? What are some design features that can make children's learning of mathematics more enjoyable? Bubble Puzzle, a game-based interactive learning activity aimed at assisting elementary school children in understanding fractions was developed. Techniques such as visual feedback and scaffolding were used in the design to promote reflective cognition. Two studies with 47 elementary school children were conducted to evaluate the educational effectiveness and the design features of Bubble Puzzle. It was found that playing the game helped children gain a better understanding of the underlying mathematical concepts, and led to statistically significant improvements on test scores. The results suggest that Bubble Puzzle provided a motivating learning environment, and that the entertainment features of the game matched children's interests and were conducive to children's enjoyment of the learning activity.

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