Results from a controlled study of the iPad fractions game Motion Math

Michelle Riconscente

NOTE: This paper was selected by the program committee as a Meaningful Play 2008 Top Paper. It has been submitted to the Meaningful Play 2012 Special Issue of the Journal of Games and Culture. Due to the copyright requirements of the journal, only the abstract is available in the conference proceedings.


Although fractions knowledge is essential for future success in mathematics, national data show that the vast majority of US students fail to become proficient in fractions. With the advent of mobile technologies such as iPad tablets, new kinds of interactions with subject matter have become possible that have potential for improving learning. The present study used a repeated measures crossover design to experimentally investigate whether the iPad fractions game Motion Math would improve fractions knowledge and attitudes in fourth-graders. One hundred twenty-two students from two schools in southern California participated in the study. Fractions knowledge was assessed using adaptations of released items from the California Standards Test (CST), the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Results show that students' fractions test scores improved an average of over 15% after playing Motion Math for 20 minutes daily over a five-day period, representing a significant increase compared to a control group. In addition, children's self-efficacy for fractions, as well as their liking of fractions, each improved an average of 10%, representing a statistically significant increase compared to a control group. All participants rated Motion Math as fun and reported wanting to play it again; nearly all (95%) children in the study reported that their friends would like the game, and that the game helped them learn fractions. Implications for the design and study of interactive games are discussed.