Overcoming Math Anxiety Through Games
Studies conducted by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) have shown that students suffering from math anxiety or phobia have mathematics scores that are 34 points lower than students who do not have math anxiety. The outcome of this anxiety is the loss of one full year of school. These findings prove a tangible connection between math phobia and anxiety and low levels of achievement, suggesting that overcoming math anxiety can result in significant improvement in student performance.
Why is the subject of mathematics treated with aversion and dislike?
In a recent study by the Research Group Inc, 68 percent of students surveyed said they’d like the subject more if they understood how to apply what they learn to their daily lives. Mathematical anxiety or math phobia is an affliction that is not necessarily caused by a lack of ability in solving mathematical problems. Instead, it is caused by the anxiousness of an individual about not being able to perform to their full potential while trying to arrive at a solution to a mathematical problem. In other words, the fear of failure is so overwhelming that it often clouds the reasoning.
So how does one overcome math phobia?
The time has come to pursue alternative teaching techniques where math can be taught in a calm and relaxed environment and where learning is detached from the fear of failure and loss of self-esteem. The thought that needs to be instilled into the mind of every math student is that failure is the stepping stone to success and not something to be ashamed and afraid of. Designing a positive experience in math classes by making it a visual, exciting, and immersive subject for students is a crucial first step. Math needs to transform from being just rote learning to a subject where imagination and creativity come into play. Emphasizing the importance of original and quality thinking as a part of the teaching process is crucial for students in building their confidence and helping them develop a real fondness of the subject.
This is where gaming can come into play in promoting math learning.
Games can help students broaden their mathematical understanding and reasoning. Teachers too can help out here by creating multiple opportunities for students to play games and encouraging new mathematical ideas that take form as students begin to identify new patterns, relationships, and strategies.
Games are the most effective and engaging tool for learning, especially in elementary school mathematics classrooms as they are immersive and motivational. The participative element of games often brings out the best in the children as they retain what they learn while thoroughly enjoying themselves. This helps them in developing a positive attitude and minimizing the fear of failure.
Learning has proven to be more effective through games than compared to the formal process, mainly due to the interactive nature of the games, which helps the young minds develop intuitive thinking and introduces them to the basics of developing problem-solving skills. Games also facilitate children to learn from each other as they share with the class how they arrived at a solution.
The non-threatening and low-pressure atmosphere of the games encourages students to express themselves more freely, and the teacher is also able to measure their progress more accurately.
Children who have not yet started reading can also gain access to mathematical learning and join in the game as the processes and procedures are simple and can be quickly learned through observation.
SplashLearn - the game-based learning program and the growing gaming market
Let’s look at SplashLearn, the new-age game-based learning program, as an example – one of the SplashLearn games has aliens stranded away from their home planet. Children are then invited to carefully calibrate their rocket ships to send them home. Their home planet may be number 25 and so they have to use two tens and a five to adjust its course correctly.
The games are created with the understanding that knowledge transference and conceptual understanding are heightened through play in interactive systems that are built-in adherence to fundamental academic concepts.
The overarching idea in all of this is to create interactive math games that help deliver the core message that learning math is fun for everyone. With a vast and varied repertoire of fascinating themes that challenge and tempt - these educational math games open a new world of exploration, discovery, and learning for kids. The bar gets raised every step of the way so that children emerge brighter and smarter from the experience.
Metaari’s yearly Global Game-Based Learning Market report predicts that the game-based learning market will quadruple in size to over $24 billion in revenue by 2024. With game-based learning, students learn on their own in an environment where they are willing to persevere, solve problems, and derive connections that would lead to long-lasting learning outcomes. The learning experience itself is the reward, rather than students receiving superficial rewards after finishing a lesson. This knowledge helps de-stigmatize game-based learning among educators who may have viewed digital games as a learning deterrent in the past.
Game-based Learning Creates Better and Long-Term Retention
According to a study done by Stanford, “Using games as an education tool not only provides opportunities for deeper learning and development of non-cognitive skills, it helps motivate children to want to learn.”
Game-based learning is entertaining for kids and therefore creates a stickiness factor that motivates them to want to learn more. For example, in another SplashLearn game, one of the characters, the Oolzoo, is designed to hold numbers on its chest. Multiple Oolzoos can be combined or separated to form bigger or smaller Oolzoos thereby replicating addition and subtraction scenarios. As children play and learn through games like these, their minds experience pleasure because they’re being engaged, challenged, and rewarded.
The world we are living in is witnessing momentous changes in the online learning ecosystem. Game-based learning is the present and the future of learning, helping students retain information better and faster. And one doesn’t have to be a math genius to realize the benefits of taking engaging mathematical education to the masses.
SplashLearn, formerly Splash Math, creates engaging learning experiences built to transform children into fearless learners. Its PreK-5 game-based learning program is curriculum-aligned and has an adaptive algorithm that offers each child a personalized learning experience that is fun and immersive. It is currently used in 150+ countries and has benefitted more than 40 million kids around the world.
SplashLearn is available across all digital platforms (iOS, Android and Web).