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IES Grant

Title: Development of a Game-based Integrated Learning and Assessment System to Target Whole Number Concepts (Project NumberShire)
Center: NCSER Year: 2012
Principal Investigator: Fien, Hank Awardee: University of Oregon
Program: Technology for Special Education      [Program Details]
Award Period: 07/01/2012–06/30/2015 Award Amount: $1,499,535
Type: Development and Innovation Award Number: R324A120071

Co-Principal Investigators: Baker, Scott K.; Clarke, Ben; Doabler, Chirstian; Walker, Nancy Nelson; Gause, Marshall

Purpose: Students who perform poorly in mathematics in the early elementary grades are likely to continue to perform poorly in mathematics in later grades. These findings indicate that a successful start in mathematics is critical to later mathematics achievement. The purpose of this project is to develop NumberShire-K, a browser-based, educational video game in which first-grade students learn and apply the mathematical concepts and skills of whole numbers. NumberShire-K will include research-based instructional components that are beneficial to students with or at risk for math disabilities (MD). There are two major aims of the project: (a) to develop a fully operational education intervention targeting whole number concepts, which employs gaming technology for students with or at risk for MD for use in a tiered service delivery model, and (b) to assess the feasibility and the promise of intervention effectiveness.

Project Activities: The project team will develop the NumberShire-K intervention through multiple "design experiments," which are iterative cycles of development, observation, analysis, and refinement. The development team will first develop a tabletop prototype, collect feasibility and usability data from four teachers on this prototype, revise it, and then develop the NumberShire-K prototype. This prototype will then be tested for feasibility and usability with six teachers before being revised to produce the full-featured NumberShire-K intervention. The full-featured program will then be implemented and revised in preparation for a pilot study in the final year of the project with 12 teachers. Data collection in the treatment condition and matched comparison condition will include surveys and focus groups, direct observations, and proximal and distal outcome measures of student learning. The project concludes with a final revision phase.

Products: The products of this project include a fully developed NumberShire-K intervention, published reports, and presentations.

Structured Abstract

Setting: The research takes place in elementary schools in Oregon.

Sample: Participants include 12 first-grade general and special education teachers and their students in two semi-urban school districts. In addition, one teacher-researcher from each district will participate extensively in testing the intervention with students.

Intervention: NumberShire-K will be an individualized browser-based, educational video game in which students learn and apply the mathematical concepts and skills of whole numbers. NumberShire-K will be designed and tested to target whole number concepts and skills, feature research-based components that are promising for students with or at risk for math disabilities, and serve as an individualized Tier 3 program. The research-based instructional design and delivery features include scaffolded explicit instruction, opportunities for practice to improve fluency, goal setting, performance monitoring, and gaming elements to promote motivation and engagement.

Research Design and Methods: The researchers will use "design experiments" in all phases of the project. Design experiments offer a methodological structure for developing instructional interventions through iterative cycles of development, observation, analysis, and refinement. The design experiments involve frequent observations of teaching, conducting end-user trials to assess navigability, and extensive data collection focused on determining the feasibility and usability of the intervention. A small pilot study in the final year of the project will examine the potential promise of the NumberShire-K intervention for increasing student achievement.

Control Condition: The control condition for the pilot study is a business-as-usual condition. During the pilot study, a matched comparison group of 60 students will be screened into the study from 12 additional classrooms.

Key Measures: Proximal measures and a distal measure (Test of Early Mathematics Ability-Third Edition) will be used to examine the promise of the NumberShire-K intervention. Proximal measures will focus on conceptual understanding of whole numbers (easyCBM Math) and procedural fluency with whole-number operations (M-CBM). The researchers will also use teacher focus groups, teacher surveys, and a classroom observation system focusing on fidelity and instructional quality to inform revisions to the intervention.

Data Analytic Strategy: Descriptive data from teacher surveys, classroom observations, and student mathematics performance will be used to iteratively revise the intervention, determine feasibility, and examine the potential impact of the intervention on student mathematics achievement. Focus group data will be analyzed qualitatively and used in intervention revision. Differential gains between treatment and control groups on student mathematics achievement measures will be analyzed using a mixed-model analysis of covariance.

Products and Publications

Additional online resources and information: NumberShire