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  • Writer's pictureElias Mbanze

Can games be effective in education?

Gamification as a teaching strategy to improve multiplication and division skills of elementary school learners in Finnish schools

Author: Elias Mbanze


This study investigates the impacts of serious games (digital games) on the multiplication and division skills of elementary school learners in Finnish schools. Gamification is a popular learning strategy that has been extensively applied in literature. Studies reveal that gamification, in general, is useful for improving skills in various subjects. However, there are fewer studies dealing with the impacts of serious games on learners’ multiplication and division skills. This study deals with this shortage by applying a gamified intervention in mathematics classrooms. A quasi-experimental method was applied. The participants were split into two groups: the experimental (gamified condition) and control group. Both groups took the same pre-test on simple multiplication and division tasks before the intervention was introduced. During the intervention, the experimental group were instructed through digital games while the control group received traditional instruction. The intervention period lasted for two weeks. After the intervention, a post-test was administered and the mean scores of the two groups were compared as an index of their learning outcome. The results show that there was no significant difference in the learning outcome between the experimental group and the control group, although the control group scored slightly higher than the experimental group. There was also a decrease in scores for both groups from the pre- to post-test as the groups scored higher in the pre-test than in the post-test. This is due to ceiling effect observed in the pre-test which led to the post-test to be, intentionally, made considerably more difficult than the pre-test. The observed results could be attributed to several factors, key amongst them being the short length of the intervention. Further studies should last longer than two weeks and, further, a larger sample size should be used for the results to be meaningful and generalisable. With a larger sample, correlation analyses between playtime and test scores as well as teachers’ experiences with digital games could also be carried out.

The full thesis may be accessed below:


Elias Mbanze is a recent graduate of the Master's in Changing Education programme at the Faculty of Educational Sciences, University of Helsinki. He originates from the small town of Rundu in the north-eastern part of Namibia. He also holds a Bachelor's degree in Education from the University of Turku. Elias taught Mathematics and Science at primary and secondary levels in Windhoek, Namibia since his graduation in 2019 until August 2021 when he relocated back to Finland for his master's studies. He is a Teacher and Education Specialist who is passionate about the field of education and is particularly dedicated to researching methods that can improve teaching and learning in STEM subjects.

Keywords: Gamification; learning intervention; multiplication and division skills


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