Digital games for improving student motivation in mathematics: Are they effective? (Best Evidence in Brief)

There is a new Best Evidence in Brief and this time I picked this study from this biweekly newsletter written up by Marta Pellegrini:

The Journal of Computer Assisted Learning has recently published a meta-analysis to evaluate the effectiveness of digital games for the enhancement of K-12 student motivation in mathematics. To be included in the review, studies had to use randomized or quasi-experimental designs and evaluated interventions involving the use of digital games in mathematics in school contexts. A total of 20 studies were included in the review. Of them 10 studies took place in the United States and 5 in European countries. The studies used different measures of student motivation, most of them were based on the expectancy-value theory. This theory postulates that student behavior is determined by expectancy – students are more likely to achieve an outcome when they believe in their success – and value – how much students value the outcome to be achieved.
Overall, results showed significant positive effect of digital games on student motivation in mathematics (ES = +0.27). Regarding factors that may have influenced the effectiveness of interventions, the study found evidence that the effect of digital games decreases as the number of weeks of intervention increases. Furthermore, effect size was larger when motivation was measured in terms of expectancy (ES= +0.31) than in terms of value (ES = +0.21).
The authors concluded that there was an insufficient number of studies to reach strong conclusions about the moderating effect of different factors (e.g., gender), as a consequence the great variability between the studies was not adequately explained by the moderators analyzed in the meta-analysis.

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