Identifying the characteristics of non-digital mathematical games most valued by educators

James Russo, Leicha Bragg, Toby Russo, Michael Minas

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Non-digital games are frequently used to support primary mathematics instruction. Moreover, we know from the literature that to increase the likelihood that a chosen mathematical game is educationally rich it should reflect specific principles, such as offering a balance between skill and luck and ensuring that a key mathematical focus is central to gameplay. However, there is limited research informing us, from a teacher’s perspective, of the specific characteristics of mathematical games that are most indicative of a game’s value for supporting learning, and the likelihood that teachers will use the game with students in the future. To help address this gap, the current study invited 122 educators to complete an on-line questionnaire, including 20 Likert-scale items designed to assess the characteristics of educationally-rich mathematical games (CERMaGs) that aligned with six ‘good practice’ principles previously identified in the literature, in relation to a specific mathematical game of their choosing. In total, educators chose a broad range of mathematical games to be evaluated (n = 53). On average, they reported that their chosen game was highly valuable for supporting mathematics learning and that they were very likely to use this game with students if given the opportunity. Our results revealed that the extent to which educators perceived a game to be suitably challenging, engaging, enjoyable, modifiable to support different learners, and transformable into an investigation or broader mathematical inquiry, were particularly important characteristics associated with perceptions of a game’s educational value. Similarly, perceived levels of student enjoyment, engagement and a game’s potential to lead to a rich mathematical investigation were important characteristics for evaluating the likelihood that an educator would use a particular game in the future with students if given the opportunity, as was the capacity of a game to support mathematical discussion. The implications of these findings for supporting classroom practice and teacher professional learning are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number30
Number of pages14
JournalEducation Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • games
  • mathematics education
  • student engagement
  • teacher perspectives

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