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DOI 10.1007/s10984-012-9122-6

ORIGINAL PAPER

and attitudes in game-based mathematics classrooms

Ernest Afari Jill M. Aldridge Barry J. Fraser Myint Swe Khine

Received: 12 April 2010 / Accepted: 7 January 2011 / Published online: 8 December 2012

Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Abstract We investigated whether the introduction of games into college-level mathematics classes in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was effective in terms of improving

students perceptions of the learning environment and their attitudes towards of mathematics. A prepost design involved the administration of English and Arabic versions of

two surveys (one to assess students perceptions of the learning environment and the

other to assess their attitudes) after modification to ensure their relevance for collegelevel mathematics students in the UAE. For a sample of 33 classes (352 students), eight

of which (90 students) were exposed to mathematics games, students involved in

mathematics games perceived statistically significantly more teacher support, involvement, personal relevance, enjoyment of mathematics lessons and academic efficacy.

Keywords Academic efficacy Attitudes Learning environment Mathematics games

United Arab Emirates What Is Happening In this Class? (WIHIC)

Introduction

We investigated the effectiveness of using mathematics games in the college setting for

improving students enjoyment of mathematics classes and academic efficacy. There is a

Curtin University, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845, Australia

B. J. Fraser

e-mail: B.Fraser@curtin.edu.au

M. S. Khine

Bahrain Teachers College, Sakhir, Bahrain

E. Afari (&)

The Petroleum Institute, PO Box 2533, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

e-mail: ernest.afari@gmail.com

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significant body of research to support the potential of using games as an educational tool

(Annetta et al. 2010; Paraskeva et al. 2010) and to complement traditional lectures for

enhancing students learning (Kiili 2005; Tan 2007; Tan et al. 2010). Past research

indicates that games have the potential to draw students into the learning process and to

encourage them to participate through a more interactive environment (Gosen and

Washbush 2004; Proserpio and Gioia 2007; Zantow et al. 2005). The use of games can also

provide educators with an interactive means of delivering knowledge that is particularly

useful for teaching cause and effect (Gosen and Washbush 2004; Thompson and Dass

2000). Finally, as an educational tool, games have the capacity to engage and motivate

students (Paraskeva et al. 2010; Prensky 2001) and the learning from games is more likely

to be retained (Annetta et al. 2010).

Kim (1995) argued that it is a common misperception that all learning should be serious

in nature and that, if one is having fun, then it is not really learning. He purports that it is

possible to learn mathematics while enjoying oneself at the same time and that one of the

best ways of doing this is through games. According to Paraskeva et al. (2010, p. 499), the

use of games is a fun, engaging, motivating, interesting and encouraging way of

teaching. They also state that games have potential for teaching complex new information

to students and, in their opinion, both academic performance and interpersonal relationships are likely to be enhanced through the use of games.

Although mathematics games are popular with teachers as alternatives to more traditional forms of repetitive practice, they are more commonly employed in school

classrooms as rewards for early finishers or to enhance students attitudes towards mathematics (Bragg 2007). Although research supports the idea that games can stimulate

students interest and motivation (Gough 1999; Owens 2005), only a handful of studies

have been carried out to investigate the effectiveness of mathematics games at the college

level and none of these in the United Arab Emirates.

1. To modify and validate a learning environment questionnaire and an attitude questionnaire for use with college-level mathematics students in the United Arab Emirates.

2. To examine the effectiveness of mathematics games in improving students learning

environment and their attitudes towards mathematics.

3. To examine relationship between the nature of the classroom learning environment

and student attitudes (enjoyment of mathematics lessons and academic efficacy).

Field of learning environments

The term learning environment is most often associated with the psychological or

emotional conditions of the classroom as well as the social and cultural influences that are

present. The concept of human environment has existed since Lewins (1936) seminal

work in non-educational settings recognised that both the environment and its interaction

with characteristics of the individual are potent determinants of human behaviour. Results

of studies conducted over the past 40 years have provided convincing evidence that the

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(Fraser 2007, 2012). Students learn better when they perceive the classroom environment

more positively (Dorman and Fraser 2009).

Researchers have developed numerous questionnaires designed to measure perceptions

of a range of dimensions pertinent to the learning environment (Fraser 1998), including the

What Is Happening In This Class? (WIHIC; Aldridge et al. 1999) and the Constructivist

Learning Environment Survey (CLES; Taylor et al. 1997). In our study, we used five of the

seven What Is Happening In this Class? (WIHIC) scales, namely, Student Cohesiveness,

Teacher Support, Involvement, Cooperation and Equity, and one scale, from the Constructivist Learning Environment Survey (CLES), namely, Personal Relevance.

Our study drew on past evaluations of educational innovations (Maor and Fraser 1996;

Martin-Dunlop and Fraser 2008; Nix, Fraser and Ledbetter 2005; Wolf and Fraser 2008)

from the field of learning environments to investigate the effectiveness of games in the

mathematics classroom learning environments.

Jeopardy-type games

From the students perspective, there are many advantages in using games in the classroom. Rather than passive regurgitation of concepts, games allow students to engage in an

interesting deviation from the classroom norm (Grabowski and Price 2003). Story (2007), a

mathematics professor at Akron University, USA, recognised the potential of using games

in the classroom and developed a mathematics games that is based on the popular

American television game show Jeopardy!. Our study involved the use of a modified

version of these jeopardy-type games. This is a group contestant game involving teams of

students (usually two) within the class. A computerised jeopardy game board is used with

up to four mathematical concepts, each with a series of point values underneath. In general,

the higher the point value, the more difficult the question or problem. When a point value is

selected by a team of students, a second screen appears with the associated problem or

question. Once the question is revealed, the members of the team work together to answer

it. If the answer is correct, they earn the point-value of that question and, if the answer is

incorrect, the point-value is subtracted from the total. A group that gets the correct answer

is then expected to present the solution to the class.

Research methods

Sample

Our study involved first and second year mathematics students attending three colleges in

the United Arab Emirates. From these three colleges, a sample of 352 students, 121 males

and 231 females, from 33 classes participated in the study. The participants ages ranged

from 18 to 35 years. Details of the sample are summarised in Table 1.

After the initial collection of the data, jeopardy-type games were introduced to students

in eight of the 33 classes over a 6-week period. At the end of the 6 weeks, the same

questionnaires were administered to the eight classes to assess whether there were changes

in students perceptions of the learning environment and their attitudes towards mathematics. Four teachers, one from College 1, two from College 2, and one from College 3,

volunteered to trial the use of jeopardy-type games. This provided a sample of 90 students

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College

Whole sample

Number

of classes

Subsample

Number of students

Male

Number

of classes

Female

Total

Number

of teachers

Number

of students

75

75

22

40

25

65

30

17

206

212

38

Total

30

121

231

352

48

90

who were attending classes that included the use of games. Table 1 provides the

description of the whole sample as well as the subsample for the trial of the jeopardy-type

games.

Two instruments were used to gather data for this study, namely, a modified version of

the What Is Happening In this Class? (WIHIC; Aldridge, Fraser and Huang 1999) questionnaire, to assess students perceptions of the learning environment, and an attitude

instrument to assess students enjoyment of mathematics classes and academic efficacy.

What Is Happening In this Class? (WIHIC)

Our study involved modifying the What Is Happening In this Class? (WIHIC) questionnaire for use in college-level mathematics classroom in the United Arab Emirates and then

translating it into Arabic. The WIHIC has 8 items in each of seven scales and was validated

for use in Taiwan and Australia by Aldridge et al. (1999). Modifications were made to the

WIHIC to ensure the suitability of the scales for use in our study. As a first step, the scales

of the WIHIC were examined to make certain that they were suitable for evaluating the

effectiveness of mathematics games in college-level classrooms. Five of the seven WIHIC

scales were selected for use in our study, namely, Student Cohesiveness, Teacher Support,

Involvement, Cooperation and Equity. The two scales of Investigation and Task Orientation were omitted because they were not considered to be relevant to the use of games in

the mathematics classroom. Because it was anticipated that the use of jeopardy-type games

might increase the relevance of mathematics to students, the Personal Relevance scale

from the Constructivist Learning Environment Survey (CLES; Taylor et al. 1997) was

included to assess the extent to which the content taught in the classroom is relevant to

students out-of-school experiences. To ensure that students engage in their learning, it is

necessary for teachers to make the content relevant to the students lives outside school

(Taylor et al. 1997). It was with this in mind that the Personal Relevance scale was

introduced to examine the connectedness of mathematics with students out-of-school

experiences. Also a study by Ogbuehi and Fraser (2007) suggested that more positive

student attitudes are associated with more emphasis on the aspects on constructivism as

assessed by the CLES, especially Personal Relevance, and on dimensions assessed by the

WIHIC, especially Involvement.

As a second step, each item was scrutinised to ensure the suitability of the language and

phrasing for the United Arab Emirates setting. For example, an item in the Teacher Support

scale that states The teacher takes a personal interest in me was changed to The teacher

is interested in my problems to ensure that students did not misinterpret the intent of the

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Table 2 Scale description and sample item for each scale in the modified What Is Happening In this Class?

(WIHIC) questionnaire and attitude scales

Scale

Description

Sample item

Learning

Environment

Student

Cohesiveness

Students are friendly and supportive of each other I make friends among students in this

class.

students

trouble with the work.

Involvement

discussions and enjoy the class

Cooperation

activities

there is teamwork.

Equity

The teacher treats students equally, including

to my questions as to other

distributing praise, questions and opportunities

students questions.

to be included in discussions

Personal

Relevance

students out of school experiences

outside college.

Enjoyment of

Mathematics

Lessons

Academic

efficacy

competence

mathematics.

Attitudes

All items used the response alternatives of Almost Always, Often, Sometimes, Seldom and Almost Never

statement. A scale description and sample item for each scale in the modified WIHIC

questionnaire can be found in Table 2.

Attitude questionnaire

Two scales were used to assess students attitudes, namely, Enjoyment of Mathematics

Lessons and Academic Efficacy. The Enjoyment of Mathematics Lessons scale, consisting

of eight items, was adapted from one scale in the test of science-related attitudes (TOSRA;

Fraser 1981) by Spinner and Fraser (2005). The second eight-item Academic Efficacy scale

was based on Jinks and Morgans (1999) Student Efficacy scale (MJSES). A scale

description and a sample item for the Enjoyment of Mathematics Lessons and Academic

Efficacy scales can be found in the Table 2.

Translation into Arabic and back translation

Both of the questionnaires were originally developed in English. Because all of the participants involved in our study spoke English as a second language, an Arabic translation

was created to ensure that they were able to understand the items. The questionnaires were

translated into the Arabic language using a standard research methodology of translation,

back-translation, verification and modification as recommended by Ercikan (1998) and

Warwick and Osherson (1973). Each item was translated into Arabic by a professional

translator from the United Arab Emirates. The next step involved an independent back-

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translation of the Arabic version into English by a different professional translator, who

was not involved in the original translation. Items of the original English version and the

back-translated version were then compared by the authors to ensure that the Arabic

version maintained the meanings and concepts in the original version. Historically, in

studies in which both the English and the translated version of the questionnaire is used,

researchers have administered separate English and the translated versions of the questionnaires (see MacLeod and Fraser 2010). Because the first language of college students in

the United Arab Emirates is Arabic, but they are taught in English, it was felt that having

both languages presented to the students as a dual layout (that has been used successfully in

learning environment research in South Africa by Aldridge et al. 2006) would increase the

reliability of the questionnaire. Therefore, each item in Arabic was placed beneath the

corresponding English item (see Appendices Tables 5, 6).

Validity and reliability of the modified WIHIC

To examine the validity of the modified WIHIC when translated into Arabic and used at the

college level in the United Arab Emirates, principal axis factoring with oblique rotation

was used. Oblique rotation was selected because one can assume that the scales of the

WIHIC are related (Coakes and Steed 2005). As a first step, factor analysis identified those

items whose removal would improve the factorial validity of the WIHIC scales. Item 6

from the Student Cohesiveness scale and Item 17 from the Involvement scale (whose

loadings were \0.40 on every scale), were removed from further analysis. The factor

loadings for the sample of 352 students for the modified version of the WIHIC are reported

in Appendix Table 7.

The remaining 46 items of the modified WIHIC had a loading of at least 0.40 on their a

priori scale and no other scale, with exception of Item 33 from the Equity scale, which had

a loading [0.40 on the Teacher Support scale as well as its own scale. The percentage of

variance and the eigenvalue associated with each factor are recorded at the bottom of

Appendix Table 7. The percentage of variance for different scales ranged between 3.78 and

28.61 %, with the total percentage of variance accounted for by the 46 items being

56.57 %. The largest contribution to variance was for the Cooperation scale (28.61 %). The

eigenvalues for WIHIC scales ranged from 1.74 to 13.16.

The Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient was used as an index of scale internal

consistency. The bottom of the table in Appendix Table 7 reports the Cronbach alpha

coefficient for the revised 46-item version of the WIHIC, for two unit of analysis

(individual and the class mean). The scale reliability estimates ranged from 0.81 to 0.89

with the individual as the unit of analysis.

To examine the ability of each scale of the modified WIHIC to differentiate between

perceptions of students in different classrooms, an analysis of variance (ANOVA) with

class membership as the main effect was used. The last row of Appendix Table 7 reports

the ANOVA results for whether students in the same class perceive the learning

environment relatively similarly, while mean class perceptions vary from class to class.

The analysis revealed significant differences (p \ 0.05) between students perceptions in

different classes for all six WIHIC scales. The eta2 statistic, which represents the

proportion of variance in a scale score accounted for by class membership, ranged from

0.13 to 0.18 for different scales.

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To examine the internal structure of the Enjoyment of Mathematics Lessons and the

Academic Efficacy scales, principal axis factoring with varimax rotation was used.

Appendix Table 8 provides the factor loadings for the modified attitudes scales. Factor

analysis revealed that Item 3 from the Enjoyment of Mathematics scale loaded below 0.40

on every scale and was therefore removed to improve factorial validity and internal

consistency reliability. The remaining items all loaded above 0.40 on their own scale and

no other. The total variance accounted for by these two scales was 66.39 %. The eigenvalues for the two scales were 4.92 and 5.04. When the internal consistency reliability

(Cronbach alpha coefficient) for the Enjoyment of Mathematics Lessons and Academic

Efficacy scales for two unit of analysis (individual and the class mean) were calculated,

scale reliability estimates were 0.92 and 0.94 using the individual as the unit of analysis

and 0.94 and 0.97 using the class mean as the unit of analysis. The factor analysis and

reliability results in Appendix Table 8 support the validity of the attitude scales with our

sample of 352 students.

The results from our administration of the modified Arabic version of the WIHIC to 352

college students in the United Arab Emirates cross-validated the WIHIC in terms of

factorial validity, internal consistency reliability and ability to differentiate between

classrooms. Therefore our results replicate considerable past research with diverse samples

in numerous countries. For example, our research replicates validation studies involving

translated versions of the WIHIC in:

The Arabic language among 763 female college students in the United Arab Emirates

(MacLeod and Fraser 2010)

The Chinese language among 1,879 junior high school science students in Taiwan

(Aldridge et al. 1999)

The IsiZulu language among 1,077 primary school students in South Africa (Aldridge

et al. 2009)

The Indonesian language among 594 junior high school science students (Fraser et al.

2010)

The Korean language among 543 secondary science students (Kim et al. 2000).

In addition, the present study replicates the validity findings of diverse studies that have

used versions of the WIHIC in the English language in numerous countries, including:

The USA with 665 middle-school science students in California (den Brok et al. 2006),

1,434 middle-school science students in New York (Wolf and Fraser 2008) and 520

elementary science students in Miami (Allen and Fraser 2007)

Australia with samples of junior high school science students consisting of 1,081

student (Aldridge et al. 1999) and 567 students (Fraser et al. 2010)

Singapore with 2,310 grade 10 geography and mathematics students (Chionh and

Fraser 2009) and 250 working adults attending computer application courses (Khoo and

Fraser 2008)

Canada and Australia with 1,404 students in technology-rich classrooms (Zandvliet and

Fraser 2004, 2005)

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Jammu, India among 1,021 middle-school science students (Koul and Fisher 2005)

Australia, the UK and Canada with 3,980 high school students (Dorman 2003).

Also our results for the sound factorial validity and internal consistency reliability of the

two attitude scales (enjoyment of lessons and academic efficacy), when used with college

students in the United Arab Emirates, replicate past research in Australia and Indonesia

(Aldridge and Fraser 2008; Fraser et al. 2010).

Effectiveness of mathematics games

Previously classroom environment dimensions have been used extensively as a criteria of

effectiveness in evaluating innovative mathematics programs (e.g. Spinner and Fraser

2005), technology integration in the curriculum (Harwell et al. 2001; Zandvliet and Fraser

2005), integrated science learning (Nix et al. 2005), inquiry-based computer-assisted

learning (Maor and Fraser 1996), computer-assisted learning (Teh and Fraser 1994) and a

K5 mathematics program which integrates childrens literature (Mink and Fraser 2005).

Our study explored the effectiveness of jeopardy-type games in terms of students

perceptions of the learning environment and attitudes towards mathematics classes in the

United Arab Emirates. Differences between students pretest and posttest scores on the

modified WIHIC, Enjoyment of Mathematics Lessons and Academic Efficacy scales were

explored using a one-way multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) with repeated

measures (using the student as the unit of analysis). The set of six learning environment

scales and the two attitude scales constituted the dependent variables and the repeated

measures independent variable was the testing occasion (pretest/posttest). Because the

multivariate test (Wilks lambda) revealed significant pretestposttest differences overall,

the ANOVA with repeated measures was interpreted for each individual modified WIHIC

and attitude scale. Table 3 reports the average item mean, average item standard deviation,

effect size and ANOVA results for prepost differences for each of the modified WIHIC

Table 3 Average item mean, average item standard deviation and difference (effect size and MANOVA

with repeated measures) between pretest and posttest scores on each modified WIHIC and Attitude scale

Scale

Average mean

item

deviation

Difference

Pretest

Pretest

Effect size F

Posttest

Posttest

Learning environment

Student Cohesiveness

4.20

4.23

0.66

0.68

0.02

0.46

Teacher Support

4.00

4.19

0.78

0.73

0.12

2.51*

Involvement

3.73

3.93

0.67

0.66

0.15

2.88**

Cooperation

3.97

4.04

0.78

0.75

0.05

0.82

Equity

4.28

4.35

0.62

0.66

0.05

1.07

Personal Relevance

3.59

3.86

0.78

0.70

0.18

2.68**

Attitudes

Enjoyment of Mathematics Lessons 3.60

3.86

0.99

1.00

0.13

2.87**

Academic Efficacy

3.97

0.89

0.88

0.13

2.81**

3.74

* p \ 0.05; ** p \ 0.01

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139

and attitude scales. The average item means indicate that, for all six WIHIC scales,

students scores increased after the games had been introduced.

The results in Table 3 indicate that there were statistically significant prepost differences (p \ 0.05) in learning environment scores for three of the six WIHIC scales

(namely, Teacher Support, Involvement and Personal Relevance) and for both attitude

scales (Enjoyment of Mathematics and Academic Efficacy). To examine the magnitudes of

these pretestposttest differences, as well as their statistical significance (as recommended

by Thompson 1998, 2001), effect sizes were calculated in terms of the differences in means

divided by the pooled standard deviation. According to Table 3, the effect sizes, for those

scales with statistically significant differences, ranged between 0.12 and 0.18 standard

deviations, which are considered to be small according to Cohens (1992) criteria.

Associations between students attitudes and learning environment

Within the field of learning environments, there has been a strong tradition of investigating

associations between various components of the environment and other areas of the educational system and operations (Fraser 2012), especially students attitudes (Aldridge and

Fraser 2008; Fraser 2012). In our study, associations between the learning environment

perceptions of college students in Abu Dhabi and their attitudes towards mathematics

(enjoyment and academic efficacy) were investigated.

Simple correlation analysis was used to examine the bivariate relationship between each

learning environment scale and each attitude measure. Also multiple regression analyses

were carried out to determine the joint influence of the set of modified WIHIC scales on

each attitude scale. We used both the individual and class mean as the units of analysis.

Multiple regression analysis provided a more parsimonious picture of the joint influence of

correlated learning environment scales on each attitude outcome. To identify which

learning environment scales contributed uniquely and significantly to the explanation of

the variance in students attitudes, standardised regression coefficients () were examined.

For the simple correlations reported in Table 4, with the individual student as the unit of

analysis, all six WIHIC scales were positively and statistically significantly correlated with

both Enjoyment of Mathematics Lessons and Academic Efficacy. With the class mean as

the unit of analysis, however, none of the WIHIC scales were statistically significantly

correlated to either students Enjoyment of Mathematics or Academic Efficacy.

The multiple correlation between Enjoyment of Mathematics Lessons and the six

classroom environment scales of the modified WIHIC, reported in Table 4, was 0.43 with

the individual as the unit of analysis and 0.57 with the class mean as the unit of analysis and

was statistically significant for both units of analysis. The results for the multiple regression

analysis (), using the individual as the unit of analysis (reported in Table 4), indicate that

two of the six learning environment scales (Teacher Support and Personal Relevance)

uniquely accounted for a significant amount of variance in student Enjoyment of Mathematics. Using the class mean as the unit of analysis, two of the six learning environment

scales accounted for significant amounts of variance in students academic efficacy beyond

that attributable to other environment scales; these were Teacher Support and Cooperation.

Table 4 also shows that the multiple correlation for Academic Efficacy and the set of the

learning environment scales was statistically significant with the individual as the unit of

analysis but not for class means. Inspection of the standardised regression coefficients

indicates that one of the six WIHIC scales, Personal Relevance, was statistically significantly and independently related to Academic Efficacy. Importantly, every statistically

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Table 4 Simple correlation and multiple regression analyses for associations between attitudes and

classroom environment using the individual and class mean as the units of analysis

Scale

Unit of analysis

Attitude-environment associations

Enjoyment

Student Cohesiveness

Teacher Support

Involvement

Cooperation

Equity

Personal Relevance

Multiple Correlation

Academic efficacy

Individual

0.14**

0.04

Class mean

0.06

0.08

0.17**

0.08

0.15

0.07

Individual

0.31**

0.23**

0.19**

0.07

Class mean

0.28

0.48*

0.26

0.31

Individual

0.21**

0.08

0.18**

0.06

Class mean

0.19

0.21

0.27

0.22

Individual

0.17**

0.11*

0.11

Class mean

0.07

0.07

0.68*

0.20

0.33

Individual

0.22**

0.02

0.19**

0.07

Class mean

0.23

0.01

0.23

0.04

Individual

0.36**

0.31**

0.25**

0.21**

Class mean

0.35

0.54

0.31

0.34

Individual

0.43**

0.30**

Class mean

0.57**

0.41

* p \ 0.05; ** p \ 0.01

replicating considerable past research which has consistently reported positive associations

between the classroom environment and students attitudes (Fraser 2007, 2012).

Summary

A major contribution of this study is that the What Is Happening In this Class? (WIHIC),

Enjoyment of Mathematics Lessons and Academic Efficacy scales were translated into the

Arabic language and validated. The modified WIHIC questionnaire has 48 items that assess

six dimensions that are important in mathematics classrooms, namely, Student Cohesiveness, Teacher Support, Involvement, Cooperation, Equity and Personal Relevance (see

Appendix Table 6). For our sample of 352 college students in the United Arab Emirates, the

WIHIC and Enjoyment of Mathematics Lessons and Academic Efficacy scales displayed

satisfactory factorial validity and internal consistency reliability. Further analyses supported

the ability of each scale of the modified WIHIC to differentiate between classrooms.

A comparison of pretest and posttest scores on the WIHIC and attitude scales suggested

that students who had been involved in games had significantly higher Teacher Support,

Involvement and Personal Relevance, Enjoyment and Academic Efficacy score than before

they were exposed to the games. However, effect sizes for these five scales ranged from

between 0.12 and 0.18 standard deviations, suggesting that prepost changes in scores

were small in magnitude and therefore of somewhat limited educational importance.

Simple correlation and multiple regression analyses were conducted to determine the

strength and direction of associations between the six scales of the modified WIHIC and

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the two attitudes scales. There was a statistically significant simple correlation between

each attitude scale (Enjoyment of Mathematics Lessons and Academic Efficacy) and each

of the six WIHIC scales with the individual as the unit of analysis, but not with the class

mean as the unit of analysis. Multiple regression analysis suggested that students enjoyment of their mathematics lessons was greater in classrooms with more Teacher Support,

Cooperation and Personal Relevance, and that academic efficacy was higher in classes with

more Personal Relevance. These results reflect past studies in which students enjoyment

and self efficacy and their perceptions of the learning environment have been found to be

positively related (Fraser 2012; Lorsbach and Jinks 1999).

This research is significant because it is one of the first learning environment studies to be

conducted in the United Arab Emirates and because a carefully modified and translated

version of the WIHIC has been made available for researchers and educators in Arabicspeaking countries. As well, our research represents one of the few learning environment

studies anywhere in the world that has focused on the effectiveness of mathematical games

in terms the classroom environment perceived by students.

For many teachers, finding time to implement different strategies, such as mathematics

games can be problematic. In some cases, teachers resort to traditional review activities

such as paper-and-pencil worksheets because they perceive the inflexibility of the curriculum and time pressures as major obstacles (McDonald and Hannafin 2003). The results

of our study, however, suggest that it could be beneficial for mathematics teachers to use

more creative pedagogical practices such as games in order to improve the classroom

environment and students attitudes towards mathematics.

Given that a students attitude, shaped by school experiences, is likely to impact on his

or her achievement (Lumsden 1994; Reynolds and Walberg 1992), it is important to

consider the types of learning environments and teaching approaches that are used. In our

study, after the introduction of jeopardy-type games, students perceptions of the learning

environment and their attitudes improved, suggesting that policy makers and curriculum

developers wishing to improve students attitudes should consider incorporating the use of

mathematical games into the curriculum.

Our findings provide a starting point from which practical attempts, involving the use of

mathematics games, can be used to enhance students attitudes towards mathematics. In

many classrooms, the teachers willingness to incorporate games or different pedagogies in

their lessons could be a key to success in improving the classroom environment and

students attitudes towards mathematics.

However, because our study involved only teachers and students in the United Arab

Emirates, the generalisability of the findings could be limited. It is recommended, therefore, that further similar research be carried out to investigate the benefits of using

mathematics games at the college level in other countries in terms of the learning

environment and a variety of student outcomes.

Appendix

See Appendix Tables 5, 6, 7 and 8.

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Table 5 English and Arabic versions of What is Happening In this Class? (WIHIC) questionnaire

Almost Seldom Some- Often Almost

never

times

always

Student Cohesiveness

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

having trouble with their work.

7.

8.

Teacher Support

9.

11. The teacher considers my feelings.

12. The teacher helps me when I have

trouble with the work.

13. The teacher talks with me.

14. The teacher takes an interest in my progress.

15. The teacher moves about the class to talk with me.

16. The teachers questions help me to understand.

Involvement

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Table 5 continued

Almost Seldom Some- Often Almost

never

times

always

18. I give my opinions during class discussions.

26. I share my books and resources with other students when doing 1

assignments.

students questions.

19. Other students listen carefully to my ideas.

20. My ideas and suggestions are used during

classroom discussions.

21. I ask other students to explain their ideas.

22. I explain my ideas to other students.

23. Students discuss with me how to go about

solving problems.

24. I am asked to explain how I solve problems.

Cooperation

assignment work.

27. When I work in groups in this class, there is teamwork.

28. I work with other students on projects in this class.

29. I learn from other students in this class.

30. I work with other students in this class.

31. I cooperate with other students on class activities.

32. Students work with me to achieve class goals.

Equity

( )

123

144

Table 5 continued

Almost Seldom Some- Often Almost

never

times

always

other students.

34. I get the same amount of help from the teacher as do other

students.

35. I have the same amount of say in this class as other students.

36. I am treated the same as other students in this class.

37. I receive the same encouragement from the teacher as other

students do.

39. My work receives as much praise as other students work.

40. I get the same opportunity to answer questions as other

students.

Personal Relevance

41. I relate what I learn in this class to life outside college.

42. I draw on past experiences to help me in this class.

43. What I learn in this class is relevant to my everyday life.

44. I apply my everyday experiences in this class.

45. This class is relevant to my life outside of college.

46. I link my class work to my life outside of this class.

47. In this class, I get an understanding of life outside college.

48. I apply my past experience to the work in this class.

123

145

Almost

never

Seldom Some

times

Often Almost

always

1.

2.

3.

subjects.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

mathematics.

Academic Efficacy

9.

10. I am good at mathematics.

11. My friends ask me for help in mathematics.

12. I nd mathematics easy.

13. I outdo most of my classmates in mathematics.

14. I feel that I will pass mathematics with ease.

15. I feel that I am an intelligent student.

16. I help my friends with their homework in

mathematics.

123

146

Table 7 Factor loadings, percentage of variance, eigenvalues, internal consistency reliability (alpha

coefficient) and ability to differentiate between classrooms (ANOVA results) for the modified WIHIC

Item number

Factor loadings

Student

cohesiveness

0.62

0.60

0.70

0.75

0.52

0.62

0.49

Teacher

support

0.71

10

0.66

11

0.74

12

0.72

13

0.75

14

0.79

15

0.69

16

0.69

Involvement

18

0.60

19

0.67

20

0.78

21

0.60

22

0.65

23

0.60

24

0.53

Cooperation

25

0.67

26

0.68

27

0.66

28

0.71

29

0.69

30

0.73

31

0.71

32

33

Equity

Personal

relevance

0.58

0.46

0.41

34

0.75

35

0.68

36

0.76

37

0.75

38

0.67

39

0.64

40

0.68

41

0.69

42

0.56

123

147

Table 7 continued

Item number

Factor loadings

Student

cohesiveness

Teacher

support

Involvement

Cooperation

Equity

Personal

relevance

43

0.80

44

0.81

45

0.80

46

0.75

47

0.65

48

0.66

% Variance

3.78

6.83

3.91

28.61

5.32

8.12

Eigenvalue

1.74

3.14

1.80

13.16

2.45

3.73

Alpha reliability

0.81

0.89

0.85

0.89

0.89

0.89

ANOVA (eta2)

0.15*

0.15*

0.16**

0.18**

0.13*

0.18**

N = 352 students in 33 classes

Items 6 and 17 were removed from all further analysis

The eta2 statistic (which is the ratio of between to total sums of squares) represents the proportion of

variance explained by class membership

* p \ 0.05; ** p \ 0.01

percentage of variance,

eigenvalues and internal

consistency reliability (alpha

coefficient) for Enjoyment of

Mathematics Lessons and

Academic Efficacy scales

Item number

Factor loadings

Enjoyment of

Mathematics Lessons

0.79

0.79

0.76

0.63

0.88

0.83

0.86

Academic

Efficacy

0.70

10

0.83

11

0.75

12

0.81

13

0.69

14

0.81

15

0.58

have been omitted

16

% Variance

33.61

32.78

0.70

Item 3 was removed from the

analysis

Eigenvalue

5.04

4.92

Alpha reliability

0.94

0.92

123

148

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