Exploring the use of mathematics apps in the elementary school classroom
Kwak, Jae Yeon
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Many reports indicate that students have difficulty in mathematics (Carr, 2012; Hinton, 2014; National Assessment of Educational Progress, 2013). Some evidence suggests that technology can help improve student performance in the field (Boogart et al., 2014; Riconscente, 2013). This study investigates how the use of digital mathematics applications (apps) in a grade 2/3 class could affect student attitudes and academic performance by assessing and comparing the quality of different apps. Five specific apps, Thinking Blocks, Sushi Monster, Math Tappers, Prodigy, and Show Me, were carefully selected based on set criteria. This study used a mixed methodology, including survey data, open-ended questions, interviews, and performance tests. Twenty students, including eleven grade 2 (six males, five females) and nine grade 3 (five males, four females), participated in this study. The results indicated the importance of focusing on specific types of mathematics apps rather than focusing on the technology itself. The students enjoyed the challenge of solving math problems and believed this helped them learn. The game-based apps, especially the micro-world type app, were some of the favourite apps that the students selected because it engaged them, provided positive feedback, and they were able to create customised characters. The students preferred to use fun and easy apps rather than those that were more complicated to use. Students’ mathematics performance significantly increased after the use of math apps, but other factors, such as the quality of the teacher’s instruction, additional use of mathematics manipulatives, and support from home could have influenced the results.