Meanwhile, back at the office … Perseverance

I’m back!

It’s been a while since I was on the blog, between Spirit Lake, Turtle Mountain and Las Vegas. Kind of ironic that I don’t gamble since so much of my time is spent staying in hotels with casinos.

student workAfter two weeks of meeting with teachers and students in North Dakota and several hundred students playing our game every week, there is a pile of improvements we want to make,both  large and small. I’ll talk about them in my next post.

Today I want to focus on the really good points. We observed many students using pencil and paper to figure out the problems in the game. This is something you DON’T see with most computer games. Students are shooting at alien spaceships that may or may not have the answer to what is 4 x 8.

Much of math isn’t like that, though.  I’ve used math in my career all of my adult life – as an engineer, a statistician. Dennis spent decades using mathematics and physics to program advanced systems. No one ever pops into your office and yells, “Quick, what’s 11 x 6?”

There is a place for fluency, for knowing your math facts right off the top of your head, in fact, that’s also another post. However, a big part of math is perseverance, not giving up when you don’t know the problem right away.

The game seems to be working for that.

How do you measure perseverance?

One way is qualitative. The schools asked that we not take pictures of the students but I took pictures of their work and lots of it was just like you see above. Another way is to see in our database the number of students who missed a problem and then tried it again. In Spirit Lake, if you miss a problem, you need to pick a choice to study – say, a video explanation of how to find the perimeter and watch that, then take a 5 question quiz on perimeter to continue with the game.

How many students do that? Nearly all of them.

Of course, not all of it is the game. We are working with a really terrific group of teachers. And, as I said, we have a long list of improvements we want to make. However, for a beta test, we are pretty happy all the way around.

Happy enough that we intend to persevere.