Learning in school and out: Formal and informal experiences with computer games in mathematical contexts

  • Nicola Yelland
Part of the IFIP — The International Federation for Information Processing book series (IFIPAICT, volume 113)


This paper presents the results of a study investigating the mathematical understandings, social processes and features of computer software that most appealed to children of primary school age. The study was conducted in both school and after-school contexts where computer games were used in different settings. The data reported here pertain to the out-of-school component of the study. The children attended a suburban primary school in a large urban area in Australia, and, in the after-school program located on the site, were free to choose and use the software in any way that they desired. The results of the study revealed that the children enjoyed games that had a narrative content and activities that went beyond those of traditional mathematical tasks. They preferred playing games that were problem-solving tasks, such as puzzles or spatial activities. They interacted frequently across age and gender, and indicated that they recognised the mathematical content of the majority of the games presented to them. The study highlights some major differences between in-school and after-school uses of computers, and suggests that the informal context was not only conducive to learning but also afforded opportunities for the children to interact in new and dynamic ways.

Key words

early childhood education elementary education social contexts research curriculum 


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Copyright information

© IFIP International Federation for Information Processing 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nicola Yelland
    • 1
  1. 1.RMIT UniversityBundooraAustralia

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