Seven Spells and Peer Tutoring: a Collaborative Mathematics Game Experience




Digital Game-Based Learning, Mathematics anxiety, Mathematics, Serious games, Peer tutoring, DGBL, GBL, Game-Based Learning


Mathematics anxiety (MA) is a negative emotional response to the manipulation of numbers and the solving of mathematical problems, potentially hindering learning and leading to poor maths skills. Digital game-based learning, in which games are used for education, has been recognised as a potential tool for reducing MA and positively influencing learning, information assimilation, and retention. Peer tutoring is an active learning method that reduces MA in addition to benefiting students academically. This study assessed how ’Seven Spells’, a digital maths game developed by our team, affects students’ levels of MA and mathematics performance. We hypothesized that this game could be used in classrooms to control MA and potentialise mathematics learning when combined with peer tutoring. 55 children from two 4th classes in an Irish primary school participated in this study. Over a period of three weeks (two days/week), the groups played the ’Seven Spells’ game with and without peer tutoring. A mathematics knowledge test, including content covered by the game, was administered at the beginning and end of the study to assess the children’s mathematics skills. Game scores were also analysed. At the end of the study, the children participated in an interview, answering questions about the game and the peer tutoring experience. The average game scores increased significantly for the entirety of the children, and also for both groups separately. MA only decreased significantly in the no-peer tutoring group, suggesting that the peer tutoring approach, which was expected to reduce MA, was not successful. No statistically significant differences were found between the peer tutoring and the no-peer tutoring groups in terms of game scores, mathematics errors and MA, further pointing out that the peer tutoring approach was not successful either in reducing MA or in stimulating mathematics learning.