1 University of Valle d'Aosta (ITALY)
2 University of Molise (ITALY)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN21 Proceedings
Publication year: 2021
Pages: 11614-11620
ISBN: 978-84-09-31267-2
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2021.2430
Conference name: 13th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-6 July, 2021
Location: Online Conference
The paper describes a dynamic design model for educational interventions that use cooperative simulation games as a fun way of enhancing primary students’ understanding of geometrical concepts and stimulating the development of competences such as mathematical language. It is outlined its most distinctive features in relation to the research evidence that informed its design.
The model comprises three interconnected and interdependent components: the architecture of the simulation game, the teaching-learning process, and dynamic re-design of the teaching-learning process during implementation. It is informed by classical and recent systems theory.

a) The design of the game architecture determines the overall structure and trajectory of the educational intervention. Existing games, on isometries, angles, similarities, and isoperimetry, all promote:
• processes of problem setting, problem solving, and seeking/finding solutions
• guided learning by discovery through which children identify, attribute, and share units of meaning functional to constructing a target concept and representing it internally and externally via everyday language and other modes of representation
• reflection on the experience of playing the game so as to analyze, organize, and generalize its geometric learning contents (at the level of abstraction, understanding, and coding currently accessible to the student), producing a representation that increasingly approximates mathematical language.

b) The design of the teaching-learning process is focused on theoretically-informed educational variables that enable the implementation of timely decisions and strategies, as dictated by the game’s architecture, its educational contents, and the leadership functions of the teacher.
Experimentation and research with primary students suggested that this process promotes the acquisition and retention of new conceptual knowledge and levels of abstraction, and allowed us to identify the teacher’s leadership functions during the game and thus the role of the relational dimension in defining and organizing educational interaction.

c) The dynamic (re)design of the teaching-learning process during play is informed by students’ interaction with the task, one another, and the teacher. It requires the teacher to make ad hoc, and sometimes intuitive, decisions in light of unpredictable outcomes of the unfolding intersubjective interaction.
Early findings showing gains in primary students’ social and academic self-efficacy invite further investigation of the role of internal and relational factors in educational interaction and the implications for self-efficacy and maths learning.

The three components of the design model intertwine along a game trajectory that is invariable but gives rise to diverse interactions with the task/peers/teacher. The teacher plays a key role in leading the process and assessing it for formative, regulative, and proactive purposes using predefined criteria and instruments.

[1] Labriola M., Gabrielli S. (2017), Azione educativa e didattica: due approcci innovativi tra resilienza, spinte emotive e matematica, IATJornal, anno 3, n 1-2, Lecce: Pensa.
[2] Piu, A. & Fregola, C. (2011, Eds.). Simulation and Gaming for Mathematical Education: Epistemology and Teaching Strategies. Hershey, PA, Idea-Group Inc.
[3] Piu A., Fregola C., Barbieri B. (2016). Geometry Classrooms With Simulation/Games. Research Results and Future Developments. Simulation Gaming. 47 (6), 796-817.
Dynamic design model for geometry-based simulation games, teaching/learning processes, research project.