The Science of Game-Embedded Teaching

Game + Science = Game-Embedded Teaching

You may think that most mathematics apps available are based on evidence and scientifically proven results. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. Most children’s apps in the Education category lack scientifically proven methods and results.

Count on me! is based on the latest research within learning psychology and uses the most effective method in psychology – Cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT – to help children master early maths skills. Count on me! is the leading app in the new category of Game-Embedded Teaching, the combination of game design and science that creates captivating learning moments for students.

Why doesn't Akribian create a pure mathematics app?

There are several mathematics apps out there already that are focused on purely mathematics. These don’t incorporate any “game” elements like a story or characters, instead acting as a digital version of the maths homework we all did in our own school years. 

The problem with these “homework”-style apps is that children don’t enjoy them – they see them as an extension of schoolwork, which is not fun or interesting compared to the countless other things they could be doing with the same screen time. 

What is the benefit of incorporating game design?

By blending game design into an evidence-based approach to mathematics learning, we have created a story driven adventure game that is captivating and motivates children to learn maths – meaning that they want to come back and play each day instead of viewing their time learning maths as a chore.

Many children around the world struggle with maths, and this struggle impacts their learning as they grow up and progress through school. By making learning exciting – by introducing game elements into that learning – children are more willing to practice, less afraid of getting questions wrong, and in the end, see the results that can only come from spending time learning maths.

Count on me! vs other mathematics apps

What makes game-embedded teaching apps different to traditional mathematics apps is that they incorporate learning moments into a game, rather than adding elements of gamification into education. Many popular mathematics apps lack scientifically-proven (and rigorously tested) results. This means that there is no evidence to show long-term, statistically significant improvement in maths knowledge after using these apps.

On the other hand, the science behind Count on me! has been proven through the most academically-rigorous review process, giving parents and teachers the confidence that time their children and students spend playing Count on me! is time well spent.

Thanks to Game-Embedded Teaching, you can comfortably let your child play Count on me! knowing that they are learning and mastering important early maths skills while doing so. 

The importance of the science behind Game-Embedded Teaching

The responsibility of teaching children is significant, and we are all working to make sure that children’s learning outcomes are as successful and effective as possible. One way that we do this is by making decisions supported by evidence when developing game-embedded teaching products, to make sure that the teaching is both effective and captivating.

For Akribian, the science behind Game-Embedded Teaching and our mathematics app Count on me! is based on the latest research within learning psychology – CBT – and the research by Akribian co-founder and CEO, Martin Hassler Hallstedt. This research is continuously developed and validated, to ensure that we keep the highest possible scientific standard.

Martin Hassler Hallstedt's research

Our educational maths app Count on me! is developed from the research of Martin Hassler Hallstedt, Psychologist and PhD, Akribian co-founder and CEO. The aim of Hassler Hallstedt’s doctoral research was to investigate the effect of additional daptive maths training on a tablet, with the ambition to develop better learning methods for children.

In his doctoral dissertation, Closing the Gap, Hassler Hallstedt’s evidence proved that students using his program for just 15 minutes per day, 3-4 days per week during an semester (19 weeks), significantly improved their critical math skills compared to students who did not use the program.

Results

Students that used the program developed by Hassler Hallstedt showed significant and substantial improvement in critical math skills compared to students who did not use the program. The gap between academically low-performing students who used the program and higher-performing students who did not use the program also decreased.

The completed studies

This study demonstrated that training on a tablet, for on average 19 hours across 20 weeks, improved basic arithmetic skills after training in the maths conditions compared to control / placebo conditions. The effects were medium sized at post assessment. There was a fadeout of effects at 6 months follow-up, where small effects were shown, and the effects decreased further at 12 months follow-up.

Children with lower non-verbal IQ seemed to gain significantly more at follow- ups than children with higher non-verbal IQ. Furthermore, persistent long-term effects were found for children with lower non-verbal IQ were found. Similar patterns, although not significant, were demonstrated for children with low socioeconomic status and children attending schools with high levels of diversity.

This study investigated if arithmetic skills could be assessed in a reliable and valid way on tablet. The examination showed that arithmetic scales could be transferred from paper-based tests to tablet with comparable psychometric properties, although not for a pictorial scale, and that separate norms are needed for tablet.

Using a machine learning analysis, this study found that children demonstrating a positive response at 6 months follow-up were characterized by having completed 90 % or more of the maths program at the default level, in combination with having a fairly favorable socioeconomic background.

Publications and list of papers

Journal of Educational Psychology®

Martin Hassler Hallstedt’s research was published in one of the world’s highest ranked educational science journals: Journal of Educational Psychology®, which publishes original, primary psychological research pertaining to education across all ages and educational levels and exceptionally important theoretical and review articles that are pertinent to educational psychology.

Hassler Hallstedt, M., Klingberg, K., & Ghaderi, A. (2018) Short and Long-Term Effects of a Mathematics Tablet Intervention for Low Performing Second Graders. Journal of Educational Psychology.

Hassler Hallstedt, M., & Ghaderi, A. (2018) Tablets Instead of Paper-Based Tests for Young Children? Comparability between Paper and Tablet Versions of the Mathematical Heidelberger Rechen Test 1-4. Educational Assessment.

Hassler Hallstedt, M., & Ghaderi, A. Predicting Long-Term Response in a Mathematics Tablet Intervention. Manuscript submitted for publication.