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Enhancing early numeracy skills with a tablet-based math game intervention: a study in Tanzania

Abstract

The study presents results of a tablet-based math game intervention to enhance early numeracy skills of children in Tanzania. Standard level 1 children (n = 122), attending a rural primary school, were randomly allocated to either intervention or control group. The intervention group participated in a daily intervention session for 46 days. Children’s performances in number identification, quantity discrimination, addition, subtraction, and missing number tasks were measured before and after the intervention with randomly selected children from both groups (treatment = 30, control = 31). Score gains in the intervention group were substantially greater than those in the control group. In particular, statistically significant effects of the intervention were identified in quantity discrimination, addition, and subtraction tasks. Item-level analyses using Item Response Theory showed that addition and subtraction items involving regrouping and most missing number items were too difficult even after the intervention. The study also identified which games were played the most or least during the sessions from play-log data and analyzed associations between children’s test performances and gameplays.

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Notes

  1. Standard levels 2 and 3 are equivalent to grades 2 and 3.

  2. For more information about the app, visit www.kitkitschool.com and the Global Learning XPRIZE competition: https://www.xprize.org/prizes/global-learning#prize-activity

  3. The IRT model (in particular, the Rasch model) specifies the probability that the response (X) to item i is correct using the model below. \(P(X_{i} = 1|\theta ) = \frac{{\exp (\theta - \delta_{i} )}}{{1 + \exp (\theta - \delta_{i} )}}\). In the above equation, \(\theta\) represents ability, and \({\delta }_{i}\) represents the value of the difficulty parameter for item i.

  4. The logits are related to the probability of a child succeeding at an item and are specifically the log of the odds of that occurring.

  5. The distribution of the target population’s numerical ability was estimated from the tested sample using plausible values (Von Davier et al. 2009).

  6. The corresponding raw total score is 35.

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Acknowledgements

We are grateful to the following people and organizations that helped to conduct this study: Sooin Lee (CEO, Enuma Inc.), Gunho Lee (Chief Programmer, Enuma Inc.), Yeongji Choi (Project Coordinator, Enuma Inc.), the Tanzania Ministry of Education, and the principal and teachers at Yomba Primary School. This study was funded in part by the grant titled “2017 Creative Technology Solution Seed 2” awarded to Enuma Inc. by Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA).

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Lee, H.K., Choi, A. Enhancing early numeracy skills with a tablet-based math game intervention: a study in Tanzania. Education Tech Research Dev 68, 3567–3585 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-020-09808-y

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Keywords

  • Tablet game-based learning
  • Early mathematics education
  • Randomized controlled trial