Learning patterns for the design and deployment of mathematical games


    School mathematics in Europe has been characterised by traditional, abstract formulation that seems readily understood by only a small fraction of students. The result of this is a common alienation of mathematical knowledge and reluctance of students to engage with the subject. For example, in the UK the number of students studying science and mathematics at A-level has dropped, in the case of mathematics, by 8.5% between 1990/1 and 1999/00. Similarly in 2004, a Swedish government report stressed making mathematics more available to students through less formal approaches.

    Although traditional approaches still dominate, there have been attempts to make effective use of learning technologies for mathematics. In recent years, an interesting avenue of exploration has been the design and use computer games as tools for supporting mathematics education. While there have been many worthy achievements, the design and deployment of pedagogically sound mathematics games with a wide appeal has proved illusive. There are many potential reasons for this but it is generally agreed that the process of designing and deploying a game for mathematical learning is a difficult task.

    This project Learning patterns for the design and deployment of mathematical games aims to investigate this problem. We work from the premise that designing games for mathematical learning is a difficult task because it requires the assimilation and integration of deep knowledge from diverse domains of expertise including mathematics, games development, software engineering, learning and teaching. We see all these aspects of knowledge as various facets of design knowledge. The mathematical dimension of game design pertains to the question of selecting and connecting mathematical content – a question of designing mathematical structures. The question of pedagogy is a question of designing instructional structures, and so on. While each party may have expertise in several of the associated knowledge domains, no single party has expertise in all of them. The complexity of each of the various bodies of knowledge means that it is often hard to communicate ideas between parties. Each community has developed its own lore and jargon. The result of this fragmentation of knowledge is that most games emerge from a particular, often restricted viewpoint. A game that embodies deep mathematical can be poorly designed in terms of the gaming experience, whereas a sleek and entertaining game may be simplistic in its pedagogical intent. 

    Our goals are to:

    • Foster knowledge integration from multiple disciplines.
    • Create a strata for communication of ideas and concepts between the varied communities involved.
    • Promote a culture of design grounded in practice and practice informed by design
    To these ends, we have adopted a two-pronged approach. One strand of the project is focused on the design of mathematical games , while the other is focused on their deployment in real-world classroom environments.

    Learning Design Focus

    Design Patterns, Case studies, Typologies, Workshops.