Key Takeaways From the Algebra Challenge

At the Games for Change conference, Zoran Popovic, director of CGS, talked about Algebra Challenge and what we’re learning from it.


1) 93% of kids who played one hour and a half learned basic concepts to solve linear equations

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93% of all students who played 1.5h mastered basic concepts to solve linear equations, when traditional methods require dozens of hours with lower final success rates.

2) Children of all ages can learn basic concepts of solving linear equations

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80% of 3rd graders on average can learn what is usually considered material for late middle school (8th grade) and high school, with much improved success rates.

 

3) There is a disparity of 10x the time required to learn between the slowest and fastest learners.

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If you look at all the kids that reached mastery, and you look at how much work they needed to do, what you see is that there is almost 6 times more problems that some kids needed to solve than others [in order to reach mastery]. So that means, unless you have 6 times more content for some kids than others, you’re never going to get to 90% mastery.

As evidenced by the above graph, there are huge disparities between how students learn. For students who need 10x as much time as others to grasp a certain subject, the classroom model is inadequate. Through high engagement and adaptive learning, these students are not left behind.

4) Homework happens naturally

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In Norway, 43% of the play/learning time was at home, with the students choosing to play without being assigned homework. Motivation is key in learning, especially for students who need to spend more time learning a given subject than their classmates. In Norway, media coverage helped project a “cool” image for the DragonBox Algebra Challenge, making learning algebra cool by association.

 

Important definitions:

In this study, two levels of mastery are distinguished. When used in this document, the term mastery indicates the first level of mastery, labelled “Mastery” in the graph. Additional learning resources to transfer game mastery to pen and paper mastery are offered to teachers.

Mastery means that a student can solve equations such as: x*a/d+ b = c/e
Hard mastery means that a student can solve equations such as: a/cx + b/x = d