SBIR Phase I: Mobile Games Teaching Rational Number Operations Through Estimation

Period of Performance: 07/01/2015 - 12/31/2015

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Teachley, LLC
56 Marx St
Staten Island, NY 10301
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

This SBIR phase I project offers a unique approach to teaching the difficult content of operating with fractions through estimation. Extensive cognitive science research shows the importance of estimating on children's sense-making, especially within the often counter-intuitive topic of fractions operations. Research also shows that estimating fractional numbers is highly predictive of future success in mathematics, and early intervention in this area improves long-term outcomes. This project aims to improve children's understanding of arithmetic by focusing on estimation. Unlike other apps, which typically end with just a score, this project will provide rich, actionable insight to help teachers screen and monitor students' progress over time, thereby improving teachers' instruction as well as student learning. Closely aligning with NSF?s mission of improving mathematics education for all children, this project fills an essential need in the marketplace for research-based, engaging software that correlates highly with long-term academic outcomes. This software will be designed especially for children with special needs and will meet the criteria for RTI screening and interventions, further increasing its commercial value for the school market and its potential to generate income. This proposal seeks to develop a prototype of a game focused on the addition and subtraction of fractions through estimation, which will encourage sense-making and bolster conceptual understanding. The app will also provide data reporting to teachers to help them tailor instruction and target interventions. Extracting actionable insight from children's gameplay rather than from standardized assessments, is a novel innovation that has the potential to dramatically change how kids learn. The development process will include wire-framing the gameplay and developing app components and features. The initial data architecture will involve a concept map of student learning behaviors mapped onto teacher actions for classroom intervention. The corresponding data structure will collect and store data during Phase I in preparation for further analysis and reporting during Phase II. The project will involve front-end component testing and follow an iterative design process, observing student interactions with the software, making revisions and debugging where appropriate. This project's research will include both informal design research and components testing as well as a small learning study, a close observation of 15-20 students with mathematics learning difficulties, exploring the effects of using the fractions software on 5th graders' procedural and conceptual knowledge of adding fractions.