Developing numeracy skills using interactive technology in a play-based learning environment

Background: The purpose of this study was to measure the impact of interactive technology in the form of mathematical applications (apps) delivered using iPads on kindergarten children’s learning of number sense in a play-based learning environment. Secondly, factors influencing the use of interactive technology in a play-based environment were examined. This technology was introduced to a small (n = 13) rural kindergarten classroom using an experimental design embedded in a mixed methods approach. Results: The teacher was keen to introduce technology to her class but was self-described as a beginner in using iPads for personal or teaching tasks. Small gains were noted between the control and intervention groups but they were not significant. Further, children were observed collaborating which supported prior research. Another observation was related to attention span, when an app became too challenging children would abandon the app or use a trial and error method to move to the next level. Lastly, when given choice, children were drawn to creative and entertaining apps rather than apps that were more pedagogically accurate but less creative. Although there was not a large gain in achievement, using interactive technology promoted student collaboration and engagement in a play-based learning environment. Conclusions: Small gains in mathematics achievement and high levels of engagement suggest that using interactive technology in the kindergarten classroom enhances learning of mathematics. Factors influencing the use of interactive technology included the quality of the app such that creative and fun apps promoted children’s engagement in learning mathematics. The level of difficulty of an app was a second factor influencing children’s use of interactive technology. If the difficulty level was too challenging, children became disengaged with the app. © 2018, The Author(s).

Background: The purpose of this study was to measure the impact of interactive technology in the form of mathematical applications (apps) delivered using iPads on kindergarten children’s learning of number sense in a play-based learning environment. Secondly, factors influencing the use of interactive technology in a play-based environment were examined. This technology was introduced to a small (n = 13) rural kindergarten classroom using an experimental design embedded in a mixed methods approach. Results: The teacher was keen to introduce technology to her class but was self-described as a beginner in using iPads for personal or teaching tasks. Small gains were noted between the control and intervention groups but they were not significant. Further, children were observed collaborating which supported prior research. Another observation was related to attention span, when an app became too challenging children would abandon the app or use a trial and error method to move to the next level. Lastly, when given choice, children were drawn to creative and entertaining apps rather than apps that were more pedagogically accurate but less creative. Although there was not a large gain in achievement, using interactive technology promoted student collaboration and engagement in a play-based learning environment. Conclusions: Small gains in mathematics achievement and high levels of engagement suggest that using interactive technology in the kindergarten classroom enhances learning of mathematics. Factors influencing the use of interactive technology included the quality of the app such that creative and fun apps promoted children’s engagement in learning mathematics. The level of difficulty of an app was a second factor influencing children’s use of interactive technology. If the difficulty level was too challenging, children became disengaged with the app. © 2018, The Author(s).

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