A Case Study on the Effects of a Computer Game on a Homeschooled Student's Motivation and Performance in Algebra

Mathematics is crucial in our technologically oriented world, and it is important that all children become proficient in the subject, including in algebra. Homeschooled students are perhaps at a particular disadvantage in this regard. Without the rigor of daily mathematics instruction in a classroom with a trained educator, they may need additional reinforcement and tools to further develop algebraic understanding and competency. Computer games are popular and engaging, and have been used for educational purposes, though research has been inconclusive as to their effectiveness in learning mathematics. The purpose of this case study was to investigate and understand the ways the computer game Dimension M could improve the motivation and performance of a homeschooled high school student in beginning Algebra. This study was conducted using interviews, a pre-test, a log of the student's comments regarding game play, and a post-test. Although no measurable improvement in mathematics performance was demonstrated by the post-test, the student went on to pass the mathematics portion of the CAHSEE, a significant accomplishment. The student's motivation to learn algebra appeared to increase as a result of his experience with the game. Previous research as well as the results of this study suggest that incorporating computer games such as Dimension M into daily learning activities may be advantageous and warrants additional research.