Game-based learning has been proven to be an effective approach for student retention of complex topics and skills (Libradilla, Teves, & Teves, 2015). A game-based learning method will be used to help students learn and acquire skills the game is intended to impart (Libradilla et al., 2015). In this paper, digital games will be used with students to focus on the topic of comparing and sorting fractions. This method is efficient for students’ productive education regarding fractions as it engages and motivates them to obtain a specific understanding of the topic (Jabbar & Felicia, 2015).
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The concepts associated with fractions are often the hardest for teachers to teach and for students to understand (Naiser, Wright, & Capraro, 2004). Research has shown that learning fractions are viewed by students as being irrelevant in terms of their interests and ideas for the future (Naiser et al., 2004). This perception makes the teaching of students more challenging due to their lack of interest. If to combine that with the fact that fractions can be an abstract concept since the concepts of fractions are not commonly used in the daily activities of students, learning fractions appear to be one of the most challenging math skills that young students must learn (Aslan, 2011).
As stated in the previous paragraph, students prefer to learn by implementing new knowledge in practice. A sound decision would be to offer children playing an education game to make them interested in what they learn. Unfortunately, many schools disregard this consideration and use old methods that require intensive reading and writing various formulae (Aslan, 2011). This means that students are not required to think laterally or work collaboratively in an attempt to gain understanding regarding the many concepts associated with using fractions (Aslan, 2011).
Game-based learning can begin to address students’ inability to grasp the complicated material with fractions through what is called constructivism as it will show them how their knowledge can be used in different life situations. The concepts used in game-based learning stem from constructivism. This learning methodology is based on the idea that students adjust particular knowledge to their needs. In other words, they need to construct the acquired information for situations that they consider to be common in their lives. (Qian & Clark, 2016).
Game-based learning allows students to apply the subject matter they need to learn to more authentic situations (Aslan, 2011). By integrating text and visual graphics, students can see material from different angles (Lemke, 1998). Games help students understand complex mathematical concepts (Kebritchi, Hirumi, & Bai, 2010). The methodology with the use of the game about fractions will give children some experience in making correct calculations. The program will also give students an understanding of how the lesson material can be useful for their lives in the future. This learning format allows hands-on and action-focused learning, which is an effective method for teaching complex mathematical concepts according to the research by Kebritchi et al. (2010).
Additionally, game-based learning allows for interaction and fun (Hainey, Connolly, Boyle, Wilson, & Razak, 2016). This format is more appealing to students leading them to stay on task longer due to the excitement and curiosity that the game provides (Hainey et al., 2016). The learners will be motivated to complete their levels as fast as possible to beat the game and show excellent results. The time limit will put a certain pressure on them that they will look at while doing the task. Hence they will understand how fractions can be used in various life instances and will consider this knowledge to be useful as a result. This means that students are working harder to learn and apply the required learning so that they can play the game successfully.
In the classroom, 5th-grade students will use individual laptops, desktops, or, most often, tablets to play the games. The game will be designed using PowerPoint and Office Mix Add-ins, which will offer an interactive way for students to work with fractions in a realistic environment (Masrom & Yusof, 2013). As it is mentioned previously, fractions will be designed as blocks in the game that will be used by students to build a bridge over the river for a girl.
This situation is realistic enough to let students understand all the benefits of learning fractions. The game will first be displayed on a projector so that the teacher can explain the game rules, settings, and how to play. The plot of the game is about the girl who lives in a house next to a river. The main character needs to cross the river to get to the store on the other side. The girl will have a certain amount of time and several blocks to build a bridge. Students will see the girl and her house on one side, and the store on the other side on the first screen while the river will be in the middle. A digital timer and game instructions will be located at the top of the screen.
The text will say that the girl intends to visit the store, and she needs to build a bridge to get there. She needs to sort fraction blocks in ascending order. Not all blocks will be necessary to use. Students will find building block options at the bottom of the screen, which represents different fraction symbols such as halves, thirds, quarters, fifths, sixths, eighths, tenths, and twelfths. Each game level increases in difficulty with more blocks and fraction symbols provided (Jabbar & Felicia, 2015).
The game needs to be such that the challenge of the game increases as the skills of the students increase (Hamari et al., 2016). Not only this will help them to grasp the learning material faster, but it also will make them apply their knowledge to similar situations in life. As children start to use their skills gained at school, the obtained information stays in their minds permanently, and they are unlikely to forget this knowledge.
The teacher will demonstrate how to play the game and then allow the students to play it. The latter will construct their learning as the teacher facilitates and interact with each student by walking around as students engage in the activity (Barzilai & Blau, 2014). The teacher will also make sure that every student is completing his or her assignment properly and benefits from it (some might just rush and disregard the important process of learning). It is essential to support learning students as children sometimes do not understand how their activities should be structured and organized to gain as much knowledge as possible.
For instance, they can focus on completing the game as fast as possible, but the main goal is to learn how fractions can be used in real life and how to apply this information to various situations in their lives. After the teacher explains all the rules of the game to the students, every student will have his or her copy on their computers. Once the game is completed, students will be asked to save the document so that the teacher could evaluate their results.
All fraction blocks should add up to one whole, and when the student finishes building the bridge before the time is up, one will press the Build Bridge button. If the student has sorted the fraction blocks correctly to equal one whole, a bridge is built. The student can then move up to the next level of the game. If the student does not manage to build the bridge, the girl falls into the river while the student does not advance to the next level.
If the student fails three times in a row, he or she will see a lesson on the fraction. This way helps students improve their performance and develop their understanding (Ke, 2014). The teacher will help students to connect several blocks if they will have certain difficulties with understanding the subject, operating the game, or solving the girl’s problem. The teacher will also give hints to children that might be late (according to the timer). This will encourage them to work faster and will let them know that the task is easier than they expected. Also, the learners will always have access to check the “Fraction Chart” by hitting the “Help” button (Ke, 2014). It is necessary to mention that all the actions on the screen will be supported by appropriate sounds.
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This will help students identify whether their block sets are built correctly or not. The example of building a bridge will be helpful for students to understand how they can use fractions in real life (Ke, 2014).
This type of game can foster competition among students and motivate them to learn (Barzilai & Blau, 2014). Children will be motivated to complete the game faster than their peers because the first five students who will beat it will receive additional points for being the fastest and grasping the material quickly.
Moreover, children always like it when other people pay attention to their achievements. Therefore, they will try to compete because of their personal attitudes towards the task. This type of game helps students understand the topic of fractions as accurately as possible because the sizes of the blocks give them hints to complete the tasks. The system of proceeding to higher levels makes students more interested in their game progress, whereas the time limit makes them more attentive to what they do (Qian & Clark, 2016).
Moreover, the game will teach the students by pointing at their mistakes once they set their blocks improperly, which is beneficial for grasping the material permanently (Jabbar & Felicia, 2015). Although all the players will have access to both the Help button and Fraction Chart, they will be automatically reassigned to fraction lessons after three failures in a row. The digital game can help students focus on learning fractions and retain what they have learned, giving them a much better understanding of concepts behind working with fractions in the real world (Barzilai & Blau, 2014).
The students’ results in the game with fractions as building blocks will be identified with the help of their knowledge evaluation (Jabbar & Felicia, 2015). This approach will also show whether the technique was efficient or not. Once the student’s time in their game is up, they are required to save it and upload their files to the cloud that the teacher can access. The following factors will be used to grade the students: completed levels, the time they needed to solve their tasks, points for every level, and the sum of these earned during the entire game (Jabbar & Felicia, 2015). Also, the teacher can look at children’s abilities to solve complicated tasks and study, regardless of their failures and mistakes. Moreover, students’ reactions to the game will be evaluated as they should perceive it as an interesting activity (the majority of children like video games).
If not, it is necessary to identify different reasons why they get nervous and stressed. The teacher must observe the actions they take in the game – children must try different variants, instead of sticking to one strategy of solving the task.
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