Synthesis #5

Maloy, R. (2010). Teaching math problem solving using a web-based tutoring system, learning games, and students’ writing. Journal of STEM Education: Innovations and Research, 11(1-2), 82-90.

The authors introduced a web-based tutoring system called Amality to some rural fourth grade classes in Massachusetts.  This system used electronic characters that acted as coaches and gave hints to students as they worked through the problems.  Students were encouraged to use the hints even though they received fewer points if hints were used.  I imagine they emphasized that if they use the hints now, to learn the material and become comfortable with the testing style, they won’t need to use them later.

After using the software, the students’ previous test scores were fortunately available for comparison and they found that there was at least a 25% increase in all of the students and a 40+% increase in some of them.

The software was used in combination with a couple of math websites, math board games and creative writing activities.  In the writing activities, students were asked to create word problems for their classmates to complete for practice.  This setup enabled students to learn how to work with the math concepts in a variety of different ways.


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