Graduate Research Papers


Open Access Graduate Research Paper


Mathematics--Study and teaching (Elementary)--Psychological aspects; Games in mathematics education; Mathematical recreations;


Students in our public schools often struggle to create deep, personal meaning regarding mathematical concepts. Perhaps our students do not spend enough time studying mathematics during the day. Perhaps our teachers do not have a deep understanding, which leads to problems in teaching at a deep level. Or perhaps our students simply are not motivated to study the subject at a deep level because it does not seem interesting. In this pretest/post-test repeated measures study of 24 fifth grade students in a grade-accelerated mathematics class, a link between achievement scores and understanding of mathematical concepts through the use of invented games was explored. These games were used in place of traditional concept review activities before the post-test. Data indicated no significant difference in the post-test scores between conditions (game use, no game). Although the conditions were randomly assigned, pretest scores for the units in which games were used were statistically lower, indicating higher difficulty in those mathematical concepts. Therefore, students evidenced much higher gain scores in the experimental condition with a large effect size. Students spent a week of class time planning, building, and playing the games (in effect, reviewing the topic) before the unit test, while that time was used in direct instruction and traditional review in the control condition. The use of games was effective in increasing understanding for difficult topics among students in the group. While there were no significant reported differences in the students' levels of enjoyment, understanding, and motivation of the units in both conditions, there was a strong reported occurrence of students enjoying the challenge that the games units provided. I recommend that teachers implement invented games in mathematics classes to increase motivation, inject creativity, promote problem-solving, and to provide engaging practice in mathematical concepts.

Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Education


Department of Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Audrey C. Rule


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Date Original


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