Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Bounty Hunter - Does It Even Work?

My business partner and I are getting ready to begin our kickstarted.com campaign and one important item I want to include is the effectiveness of Bounty Hunter.  Are students even learning about slope while playing the game?

For months, I have been asking students to come to my classroom during homeroom to take a pre-test, play the board game, then take a post-test.  I would sit and listen to them play, taking notes about rules that weren't clear, balance of winning, and any comments or suggestions that the students made.   As of now I have had 16 students play the game, more students will be playing this but here are the results so far.

At first, I had the students take the tests and play the game without even mentioning the word slope.  As a matter of fact, I said very little during game play, I just listened.  I wanted to see if the game stood on its own.  And to some extent it did.  Students were able to earn higher scores on the post-test than the pre-test.  However, I was confused by the post-test results, I thought they would be higher.  The same students that could play the game with ease (create slope-fractions, move their pawn in the correct direction, and even advise other players) were not getting results on the post-test like I would predict.

I decided that since this was a classroom game and provided many teachable moments, I should take those moments and teach.  Isn't that the whole point of the game?  Isn't this a game that will be used by teachers who will use these moments too?  With the last group of three students that I worked with, I used these teachable moments.  I helped them to make the connection between the game and the graphs they were seeing.  This was a matter of about 10 seconds.  I told them that the points on the line were like the placement of the pawns, and the line was the line of movement.  Done.

Since we're number people, here are some numbers.

For the first 13 students...  Pre-test: 21.8%  Post-test: 35.3%  Increase of 13.5%
(No connections relayed to the students from the teacher)

The last 3 students...  Pre-test: 13.9%   Post-test: 55.6%  Increase of 41.7%
(Teacher did relay connections to students)

Overall...  Pre-test: 20.3%   Post-test: 39.1%  Increase of 18.8%

I know the number of students is a factor here.  Hopefully as more students are tested, the results will become more solid.  What the results are telling me so far is the importance of the connection between the game and math we are learning in class.  As teachers we can't assign a game (or project or activity for that matter) to students and then not help them see how it all connects.