42 minutes to learn algebra?

It Only Takes About 42 Minutes To Learn Algebra With Video Games, writes Jordan Shapiro on Forbes, citing the Washington State Algebra Challenge, which used DragonBox App. According to Washington University’s Center for Game Science and the Technology Alliance, 4,192 K-12 students solved 390,935 equations over the course of five days in early June.

What’s even more impressive, “of those students who played at least 1.5 hours, 92.9% achieved mastery. Of those students who played at least 1 hour, 83.8% achieved mastery. Of those students who played at least 45 minutes, 73.4% achieved mastery.”

Shapiro downloaded DragonBox “and was astonished to see how quickly my son (then 7) learned to do complex algebraic equations.” Now his five-year-old is playing. “I watched him breeze through the first two chapters in about 20 minutes.”

Creator Jean-Baptise Huynh tells Shapiro that DragonBox teaches “the mechanics of algebra processes and abstraction,” but students will need teachers or parents to “transfer the knowledge to pencil and paper.”

Dragonbox2 screenshot

Darren, a high school math teacher, is skeptical that normal kindergarteners and first graders can learn algebra. “My experience is that there is often a huge gap between the game or manipulative and the transference of what’s learned there to actual algebra,” he writes on Right on the Left Coast.

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Comments

  1. I’d like to see these kids do as well with paper and pencil based algebra. I suspect that what is being touted (algebra in 42 minutes) will not pass the smell test.

    Sigh

    • Mark Roulo says:

      The Forbes author left out the word “some” from the introductory paragraph:

       

      “On average, it took 41 minutes and 44 seconds for students to master Algebra skills during the Washington State Algebra Challenge using the DragonBox App.”

       

      Should have been:

       

      “On average, it took 41 minutes and 44 seconds for students to master some Algebra skills during the Washington State Algebra Challenge using the DragonBox App.”

       

      Consider this: X + 1 = 7

       

      How long would it take a typical 10th grader to learn how to do this? Then go to X+2 = 11.

       

      Look! The kids are doing algebra! Which they are … but in some sense the claim is a bit misleading.

       

      This tool might help. Eventually, we SHOULD have some good math teaching software, so why not now with this? But it isn’t like one can replace a one year algebra class with 42 minutes of playing a game.

  2. Thanks for the link 🙂