Children’s Learning from Multiple Media in Informal Mathematics Education

Principal Investigator: 
Project Overview
Background & Purpose: 

Primary questions:

  1. How does mathematics learning from multiple media differ from learning from a single medium?
  2. What outcomes derive from engagement with different types of media and what types of synergy occur?

Secondary questions:

  1. How can reliable research methods be developed to assess contributions of individual media and their interactions?
  2. How can informal education projects capitalize on the strengths of each medium?
  3. How can media components be designed and employed to best complement each other?

Data collected primarily in schools in Michigan and Indiana, but reflect use of media both in school and at home.

Research Design: 

The research design for this project is cross-sectional with repeated measures. The project includes both a naturalistic phase and an experimental phase. Thus, the research design for this project is associative/correlational [quasi-experimental, journal data (self-report)], and causal [quasi-experimental].


Data collection and analysis for the main body of the study is in progress. Pilot data revealed that, while playing mathematics games online, children employed cycles of reasoning that resembled the sorts of reasoning that past research has documented for problem solving in classrooms. Moreover, this process of reasoning was measurable, not only via in-person observations, but also through analysis of online tracking data.

Publications & Presentations: 

Journal articles to date:
Fisch, S.M., Lesh, R., Motoki, E., Crespo, S., & Melfi, V. (submitted for publication). Children’s mathematical reasoning in online games: Directions for investigation and assessment. Child Development Perspectives.

Fisch, S.M., Lesh, R., Motoki, E., Crespo, S., & Melfi, V. (in press). Data mining for educational “gold.” Interactions.

Conference presentations to date:
Fisch, S.M., Lesh, R., Motoki, E., Crespo, S., & Melfi, V. (2009, April). Mathematical problem solving in children's online gameplay. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Denver, CO.

Fisch, S.M., Lesh, R., Motoki, E., Crespo, S., & Melfi, V. (2009, May). Mathematical problem solving and online gameplay. In Fisch, S.M. (Chair), Data mining for gold: Using interactive games for instructional assessment. Symposium presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Chicago, IL.

Note: In addition to the above academic and semi-academic papers, when the project was awarded funding, a press release was issued by Thirteen/WNET, and an announcement was disseminated via Thirteen’s electronic newsletter for teachers.

Other Products: 

We expect the project to inform the development of products by (1) identifying unique strengths of various forms of educational media and (2) providing a model of methods and measures for evaluating the educational impact of future informal education projects.