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Institute of Education Sciences

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IES Contract

Title: Teachley: Math Facts - Design And Development Of Intervention Software Promoting Single-Digit Operational Fluency
Center: NCSER Year: 2013
Principal Investigator: Carpenter, Kara Awardee: Teachley, Inc.
Program: Small Business Innovation Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years Award Amount: $899,998
Award Number: EDIES13C0044

Video Demonstration of the Phase I Prototype:

Purpose: An estimated 5 to 8% of elementary school students have some form of memory or cognitive deficit that inhibits learning basic math. Researchers have identified several areas where children with math learning difficulties struggle. These include a strong sense of number facts to quickly and accurately perform operations on single digit numbers, the use of strategies to solve problems which have not yet been memorized, a sense to figure out whether or not an answer is reasonable, and self-monitoring to assess one's own efficacy and understanding. To support students with math learning difficulties in grades 1 to 4, this project team will develop a series of apps for touch-screen tablets that encourage single digit operational fluency, conceptual understanding, strategy awareness, and self-understanding.

Project Activities: During Phase I project in 2012, the research team developed a prototype of the single digit addition game, following an iterative process incorporating  feedback from teachers and students having difficulty with math. Nineteen students participated in a pilot study, and the researchers found that the prototype functioned well and that users were engaged by the game. In Phase II, the team will build and refine the back end system, design and develop the teacher website, and create content for games in subtraction, multiplication, and division. Researchers will carry out a pilot test of the usability and feasibility, fidelity of implementation, and  promise of the game to improve learning.  Students in first to fourth grade identified by teachers as having the greatest difficulty with math will participate in the pilot study. Half of the 120 students participating in the pilot study will be randomly selected to play the game as a supplement to classroom learning whereas the other half will not have access. Students in the control group will be provided the games at the end of the study. Analyses will compare pre- and post-test math scores.

Product: The web-based game, MathFacts, will include a series of apps for touch-screen tablet computers to support math learning for 1st to 4th grade students with major or sometimes intractable learning difficulties. In the game, students will learn content through mini-lessons, engage with problems in practice and speed rounds, and then receive formative feedback on their performance. Students will  use and manipulate blocks, linker tubes, number lines, and  interact with engaging pedagogical agents such as parrots and sloths. Students will set goals, advance to more challenging levels, and engage in competition. The game will be self-paced and will provide individualized formative assessment scaffolding when students do not know the answer to a question. A teacher management system will support professional development and will produce reports to guide instruction. The intended outcomes from gameplay will include increased fluency, conceptual understanding, strategy awareness, self-assessment, and motivation of basic math.