From research to prototypes: Developing a digital game to foster fraction equivalence.
Keywords:Fraction, equivalence, development, education
Fraction understanding is a significant predictor of future math achievement. In addition to more traditional instruction, digital game-based approaches have been found successful in facilitating conceptual understanding of fractions (including aspects such as part-whole relations represented as pie-charts, or measurement, i.e., magnitude in terms of number lines). Nevertheless, the number of existing games that address the aspect of fraction equivalence is limited and if so, these typically replicate common paper-and-pencil tasks like identifying and matching equivalent fractions. This, however, hardly takes advantage of the medium’s potential and affordances nor strives for intrinsic integration of the learning content with game mechanics. Seeking to overcome this shortcoming, the present article describes the development of a digital game fostering fraction equivalence. To do so, among others, we developed visual animations illustrating the transitions from circular part-whole representations (pie-charts) to magnitudes on a number line—drawing on previous research and games. In particular, a wheel is presented, whose circumference matches the length of the number line which it rolls along. Players can manipulate the number of spikes on the wheel reflecting the number of parts of the whole (e.g., 2 spikes halve the circle, while 4 cut it into quarters etc.). By rolling the wheel, the spikes puncture the number line thus segmenting it into equal parts, essentially transforming the aspects from part-whole relations to measurement (magnitude) on the number line. Additionally, as punctures of 2 and 4 spikes will coincide at the 1/2 - 2/4 location of a 0-1 number line, players can find equivalent fractions. The game under development will be evaluated with late primary/early secondary school students to test its game design, affordances, and possible impact on fraction understanding.