Comparing types of mathematics apps used in primary school classrooms: an exploratory analysis

Abstract

Understanding type and characteristics of mathematics apps can help primary school teachers to effectively assess and select apps to support learning. This study is an exploratory comparison of four different types of mathematics apps (practice-based, constructive, productive, game-based) based on the assessment of three characteristics (perceived learning value, usability, engagement) from the perspective of 20 grade 3 and 4 students over a five-week period. Pre- and post-test results indicated that students’ knowledge of basic addition and subtraction increased significantly after using mathematics apps. The results suggested that there were clear differences among the four apps examined. The game-based app was rated high on all three app characteristics. Productivity and constructive apps were rated relatively high on perceived learning and low on usability and engagement. The practice-based app ranked high on usability and engagement, but low on perceived learning. Future research needs to look at app type and characteristics in more depth and explore pedagogical choices when selecting and integrating mathematics apps in the classroom.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Alon, S., An, H., & Fuentes, D. (2015). Teaching mathematics with Tablet PCs: A professional development program targeting primary school teachers. In Christou, G., Maromoustakos, S., Mavrou, K., Meletiou-Mavrothers, M. & Stylianou, G. (Eds.), Tablets in K-12 education: Integrated experiences and implications (pp. 175–197). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Ambrose, S. A., Bridges, M. W., DiPietro, M., Lovett, M. C., & Norman, M. K. (2010). How learning works: Seven research-based principles for smart teaching. San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass.

    Google Scholar 

  3. An, H., Alon, S., & Fuentes, D. (2015). iPad implementation approaches in K-12 school environments. In Alon, S., An, H. & Fuentes, D. (Eds.), Tablets in K-12 education: Integrated experiences and implications (pp. 22–33). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Bouck, E. C., Satsangi, R., & Flanagan, S. (2016). Focus on inclusive education: Evaluating apps for students with disabilities: supporting academic access and success. Childhood Education, 92(2), 324–328. https://doi.org/10.1080/00094056.2016.1208014.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Bruner, J. S. (2009). The process of education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Bulut, M. B., Unluturk, Hanife, & Kaya, G. (2015). The effects of Geogebra on third grade primary students’ academic achievement in fractions. Mathematics Education, 11(2), 347–355. https://doi.org/10.12973/iser.2016.2109a.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Burns, M. K., Kanive, R., & DeGrande, M. (2012). Effect of a computer-delivered math fact intervention as a supplemental intervention for math in third and fourth grades. Remedial and Special Education, 33(3), 184–191. https://doi.org/10.1177/0741932510381652.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Cayton-Hodges, G. A., Feng, G., Pan, X. (2015). Tablet-based math assessment: What can we learn from math apps? Educational Technology & Society, 18 (2), 3–20. Retrieved from http://www.ifets.info/journals/18_2/2.pdf

  9. Chang, W.-L., Yuan, Y., Lee, C.-Y., Chen, M.-H., & Huang, W.-G. (2013). Using Magic Board as a teaching aid in third grader learning of area concepts. Educational Technology & Society, 16(2), 163–173.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Clark, W., & Luckin, R. (2013). IPads in the Classroom. London Knowledge Lab, 1, 1–31. Retrieved from http://www.thepdfportal.com/ipads-in-the-classroom-report-lkl_61713.pdf

  11. Creswell, J. (2014). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed method approaches (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  12. De Leeuw, E. D. (2005). Surveying children. In S. J. Best & B. Radcliff (Eds.), Polling America: An encyclopedia of public opinion (pp. 831–835). Westport. CT: Greenwood Press.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Domingo, M. G., & Gargante, A. B. (2016). Exploring the use of educational technology in primary education: Teachers’ perception of mobile technology learning impacts and applications’ use in the classroom. Computers in Human Behavior, 56, 21–28. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.11.023.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Donovan, M. S., Bransford, J. D., & Pellegrino, W. (2000). How people learn: Brain. mind, experience and school. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Ebner, M. (2015). Mobile applications for math education—how should they be done? In Crompton, H., & Traxler, J. (Eds.). Mobile learning and mathematics. Foundations, design, and case studies (pp. 20.32), New York: Routledge.

  16. Ellis, A. K., Bond, J. B., & Denton, D. W. (2012). An analytical literature review of the effects of metacognitive teaching strategies in primary and secondary student populations. Asia Pacific Journal of Educational Development, 1(1), 9–23. Retrieved from https://goo.gl/cNxJfc

  17. Falloon, G. (2013). Young students using iPads: App design and content influences on their learning pathways. Computers & Education, 68, 505–521. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2013.06.006.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Falloon, G. (2014). Researching young students’ learning pathways using iPads: What’s going on behind the screens? Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 30(4), 318–336. https://doi.org/10.1111/jcal.12044.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Fraser Institute (2016). Fraser Institute: School Performance. Ontario: The Fraser Institute. Retrieved from http://www.fraserinstitute.org/school-performance

  20. Fredricks, J. A., Blumenfeld, P. C., & Paris, A. H. (2004). School engagement: Potential of the concept, state of the evidence. Review of Educational Research, 74(1), 59–109. https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543074001059.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Freebody, P., Muspratt, S., & McRae, D. (2007). Evaluating the learning federation’s online curriculum content initiative, pp. 1–144. Retrieved from http://www.ndlrn.edu.au/verve/_resources/freebody_final_report_2007.pdf

  22. Grandgenett, N., Harris, J., & Hofer, M. (2011). An activity-based approach to technology integration in the mathematics classroom. NCSM Journal of Mathematics Education Leadership, 13(1), 19–28.

    Google Scholar 

  23. Handal, B., Campbell, C., Cavanagh, M., & Petocz, P. (2016). Characterising the perceived value of mathematics educational apps in preservice teachers. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 28(1), 199–221. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13394-015-0160-0.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Hirsh-Pasek, K., Zosh, J. M., Golinkoff, R., Gray, J. H., Robb, M. B., & Kaufman, J. (2015). Putting education in “educational” apps: Lessons from the science of learning. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 16(1), 3–34. https://doi.org/10.1177/1529100615569721.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Jerzembek, G., & Murphy, S. (2013). A narrative review of problem-based learning with school-aged children: implementation and outcomes. Educational Review, 65(2), 206–218. http://doi.org/10.1080/00131911.2012.659655

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Kay, R. H., & Knaack, L. (2008). Exploring the impact of learning objects in middle school mathematics and science classrooms: A formative analysis. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 34(1). Retrieved from https://www.cjlt.ca/index.php/cjlt/article/view/26430/19612

  27. Keengwe, J. (2013). iPad integration in an elementary classroom. In Anderson, A. & Hur, J.W. (Eds.), Pedagogical applications and social effects of mobile technology integration (pp. 42–54). Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Kiili, K., Ketamo, H., Koivisto, H., & Finn, E. (2014). Studying the user experience of a tablet based mathematics game. International Journal of Game-Based Learning, 4(1), 60–77. https://doi.org/10.4018/ijgbl.2014010104.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Kokotsaki, D., Menzies, V., & Wiggins, A. (2016). Project-based learning: A review of the literature. Improving Schools, 19(2), 267–277.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Kong, S. C., & Kwok, L. F. (2005). A cognitive tool for teaching the addition/subtraction of common fractions: a model of affordances. Computers & Education, 45(2), 245–265. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2004.12.002.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Maxwell, J. A. (2005). Qualitative research design: An interactive approach. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  32. Milman, N., Carlson-Bancroft, A., & Boogart. (2014). Examining differentiation and utilization of iPads across content areas in an independent, pre K–4th grade elementary school. Computers in the Schools, 31(3), 119–133. https://doi.org/10.1080/07380569.2014.931776

    Article  Google Scholar 

  33. Moyer-Packenham, P. S., Baker, J., Westenskow, A., Anderson-Pence, K. L., Shumway, J. F., & Jordan, K. E. (2013). A study comparing virtual manipulatives with other instructional treatments in third- and fourth-grade classrooms. Journal of Education, 193(2), 25–39. https://doi.org/10.1177/002205741319300204.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Moyer-Packenham, P. S., Salkind, G., & Bolyard, J. J. (2008). Virtual manipulatives used by K-8 teachers for mathematics instruction: Considering mathematical, cognitive, and pedagogical fidelity. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 8(3), 202–218.

    Google Scholar 

  35. Moyer-Packenham, P. S., & Suh, J. M. (2012). Learning mathematics with technology: The influence of virtual manipulatives on different achievement groups. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 31(1), 39–59.

    Google Scholar 

  36. Murray, O. T., & Olcese, N. R. (2011). Teaching and learning with iPads, ready or not? TechTrends, 55(6), 42–48. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-011-0540-6.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. (2000). Principles and standards for school mathematics. Reston, VA: National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

    Google Scholar 

  38. Nurmi, S., & Jaakkola, T. (2006). Effectiveness of learning objects in various instructional settings. Learning, Media and Technology, 33(3), 233–247. https://doi.org/10.1080/17439880600893283.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Papadakis, S., Kalogiannakis, M., & Zaranis, N. (2017). Designing and creating an educational app rubric for preschool teachers. Education and Information Technologies, 22(6), 3147–3165. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10639-017-9579-0.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. Prensky, M. (2010). Teaching digital natives—Partnering for real learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Reimer, K. & Moyer, P. (2005). Third-graders learn about fractions using virtual manipulatives: A classroom study. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 24(1), 5–25. Retrieved from https://goo.gl/4NDRFE

  42. Riconscente, M. M. (2013). Results from a controlled study of the iPad fractions game Motion Math. Games and Culture, 8(4), 186–214. https://doi.org/10.1177/1555412013496894.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Schunk, D. H. (2008). Learning theories—An Educational perspective (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

    Google Scholar 

  44. Statista. (2017). Compound annual growth rate of free and paid education app downloads worldwide from 2012 to 2017. Retrieved from https://www.statista.com/statistics/273971/cagr-of-free-and-paid-education-app-downloads-worldwide/

  45. Stemler, S. (2001). An overview of content analysis. Practical Assessment, Research & Evaluation, 7(17), 1–6. Retrieved from http://pareonline.net/getvn.asp?v=7&n=17

  46. Suh, J. & Moyer, P. S. (2007). Developing students’ representational fluency using virtual and physical algebra balances. Journal of Computer in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 26(2), 155–173. Retrieved from https://goo.gl/cgxWDU

  47. Technavio. (2015). Global Education Apps Market-Market Study 20152019. Retrieved from http://www.reportsnreports.com/reports/426935-global-education-apps-market-market-study-2015-2019.html

  48. Thambi, N. & Eu, L. K. (2013). Effect of students’ achievement in fractions using GeoGebra. SAINSAB, 16, 97–106. Retrieved from https://goo.gl/HWRvpz

  49. The Le@rning Foundation (2009). Using The Le@rning Federation digital curriculum resources to enhance the education of Indigenous students. Retrieved from http://www.ndlrn.edu.au/verve/_resources/indig_report_2009.pdf

  50. Thomas, J. W. (2000). A review of research on project-based learning. San Rafael, CA: The Autodesk Foundation. Retrieved from https://goo.gl/Sq7j5A

  51. Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  52. Watts, C. M., Moyer-Packenham, P. S., Tucker, S. I., Bullock, E. P., Shumway, J. F., & Westenskow, A. (2016). An examination of children’s learning progression shifts while using touch screen virtual manipulative mathematics apps. Computers in Human Behavior, 64, 814–828. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.07.029.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Whitton, N. (2014). Digital games and learning: Research and theory. New York, NY: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  54. Zhang, M., Trussell, R. P., Gallegos, B., & Asam, R. R. (2015). Using mathematics apps for improving student learning: An exploratory study in an inclusive fourth grade classroom. Tech Trends, 59(2), 32–39. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-015-0837-y.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Robin Kay.

Appendices

Appendix A: Attitude survey

  1. 1.

    Are you a: Boy or Girl (circle one)

  2. 2.

    What grade are you in? _____

  3. 3.

    What year were you born? ________

Please circle a number that tells how much you agree or disagree.

  Strongly disagree Disagree Neutral Agree Strongly agree
4. The app helped me to learn to add better 1 2 3 4 5
5. The app helped me to learn to subtract better 1 2 3 4 5
6. The app was easy to use 1 2 3 4 5
7. The app was fun to use 1 2 3 4 5
  1. 8.

    What, if anything, did you like about using this app?

  2. 9.

    What, if anything, did you not like about using this app?

Appendix B: Interview

Procedure

The interviewer placed the iPad in front of the student

Interview script

Teacher: Hi (students’ name)! How are you? Please have a seat, (student’s name).

I would like to ask you a few questions about whether you liked using mathematics apps, and whether it helped you learn. It is important for teachers to find out the best apps to use in our mathematics class.

  1. 1.

    Which math apps were the most helpful? Show me on the iPad

  2. 2.

    Why did you choose these apps?

  3. 3.

    Were the uses of these apps in the math class helpful? Why or why not?

  4. 4.

    Did you have any problems or issues using these apps?

Appendix C: Sample test format

figurea

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Kay, R., Kwak, J.Y. Comparing types of mathematics apps used in primary school classrooms: an exploratory analysis. J. Comput. Educ. 5, 349–371 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40692-018-0109-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Mathematics
  • Apps
  • E-learning
  • Pedagogy
  • Mobile Learning