Silicon Valley Education Foundation (SVeF) plays a key role in evaluating and connecting appropriate edtech companies to schools. They play an active role in the matching of companies to particular schools and support evaluation of the products when they are deployed. In addition to supporting deployment and testing, representatives of SVeF interview teachers on an ongoing basis and provide feedback to companies.
SVeF, as part of its September, 2016 Pitch Games, matched Cignition (and their teaching platform FogStone Isle) to the Ingrid B Lacy Middle School in the Pacifica School District in California. In particular, the school wanted to use FogStone Isle (FSI) in six of its seventh grade math classes. Many of the students were far behind in their understanding of the concepts behind fraction operations. According to the Common Core State Standards, fraction operations should be mastered by sixth grade, and seventh grade has a full schedule of new material, leaving little or no time for reviewing a few years of fraction material.
A plan was made to use the fraction package from FSI as review material for the seventh grade classes. Every Friday for the fall semester, students would use FSI for 45 minutes, reviewing fraction equivalence and the fraction operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. FSI is a virtual fantasy world in which kids craft their own island, creatively developing many types of structures such as buildings, farms, and ranches. The environment is intrinsically mathematical --- the students must grapple with and understand the underlying mathematics in order to build their world.
A test of efficacy was performed to measure the results of FSI for teaching fraction equivalence and fraction operations to the seventh graders.
The goals of the study included:
- Measure learning efficacy for the FSI fraction package for 7th graders in the Pacifica School District. At the beginning of the school year, a large majority of the students were struggling with fraction operations, all of which had been taught in earlier years.
- Measure transfer of learning to new fraction material outside of the FSI game environment. Pretests and posttests were based on textbook problems and Common Core exam problems.
Two tests, A and B, were created, based on textbook and Common Core exam questions. A random 50% of students received test A as a pretest and test B as a posttest. The other 50% received test B as a pretest and test A as a posttest. This enabled us to make sure any differences between the A and B tests did not bias the results.
Pretests were administered at the beginning of the fall semester, prior to any use of FSI. Posttests were administered soon after return from the winter break.
- The total number of students tested was 139 (N = 139)
- Average score on pretest was 50% correct
- Average score on posttest was 80% correct
- + 30% abs score difference
T-Tests, p < 0.001, significant improvement. Effect size, Cohen’s d measure 1.15, very large effect.