Children’s beliefs about their efficacy (ability to succeed) greatly effect their ability to persist through challenges and setbacks (Dweck, Walton, & Cohen, 2014). Dweck et al (2014) refers to this as “Academic Tenacity”. According to Dweck et al (2014), “Students may view intelligence as a fixed quantity that they either possess or do not possess (a fixed mindset) or as a malleable quantity that can be increased with effort and learning (a growth mindset)”. The type of mindset that children possess greatly effects their persistence and effort. A child who believes that his intelligence is fixed at a certain level may not feel that there is any benefit to putting in the effort and persistence to succeed (Dweck et al, 2014). Dweck et al (2014) conducted research with students which revealed that praising hard work rather than intelligence is key. By focusing on learning goals rather than performance, children are able to adopt a growth mind set rather than being restricted by a fixed mind set (Dweck et al, 2014). Nurturing a growth mindset in children motivates them to work hard, persevere, and succeed.
Twelve A Dozen, an iPad application created by Amplify and Touchpress Games, promotes a growth mindset in children through encouraging persistence (Dweck et al, 2014). Specializing in game applications for education, Amplify Games does not typically cater to consumers; however Touchpress does. Most of Amplify’s game applications are reserved for schools; however, the release of Twelve A Dozen to consumers is an experiment by Amplify to test the waters and Touchpress is now releasing their games to consumers via subscription or by single purchase. Amplify “seeks to connect middle school students to learning experiences that foster their enjoyment of mathematics and science” (Amplify, 2015). All of Amplify’s science and math games adhere to “Common Core math principles and concepts from the Next Generation Science Standards” (Amplify, 2015) with the purpose of improving students’ knowledge in these areas (Amplify, 2015). The games are designed so that children are able to learn and play when and how they want to while learning in the process (Amplify, 2015).
Differentiated learning is a key concept woven into Amplify game applications. “The goal of differentiation is to engage all learners through multiple approaches, tasks and activities” (Koch 2013; Amplify, 2015). A differentiated approach is grounded in the belief that children of the same age differ in their readiness to learn and enables children to learn at their own pace (Amplify, 2015). “Students learn best when learning opportunities are natural” (Amplify, 2015). Incorporating learning into natural play optimizes learning and extends learning opportunities beyond the classroom, encouraging life-long learning habits.
Setting Twelve A Dozen apart from other educational games for older children is the understanding that “good games operate at the edges of a user’s abilities, offering some challenge, but also remaining doable” (Gee 2003; Amplify, 2014). Because the game is not frustrating and is rather compelling due to the learning involved, children gradually improve in proficiency as they proceed through the game without becoming bored. Children playing Twelve A Dozen “must use their factoring skills and solve order-of-operations puzzles to save the world” (Amplify, n.d.).
Common Core guidelines dictate order of operations, fractions and factoring as necessary algebraic readiness skills (Amplify, 2015). Chang (2017) describes Twelve A Dozen gameplay stating that, “All of the game’s puzzles revolve around manipulating numbers—through subtraction, addition, division or multiplication, and introduce players to processes that they will use when they begin to explore algebra”. Children playing Twelve A Dozen unknowingly progress in math ability while engaging in exciting gameplay. Although the application parameters suggest that the game is made for children 9 and up; my oldest son has been playing Twelve A Dozen since he was 6 years old. He is 7 years old now and still thoroughly enjoys the game nor is it too hard or too easy for him, keeping him interested in the game and learning.
Nurturing a growth mindset in children motivates them to work hard, persevere, and succeed. Applying growth mindset principles to education helps to improve children’s efficacy. Learning in natural ways is more effective and less stressful for children, encouraging greater retention of concepts. Fostering learning in this way through game play introduces children to positive manifestations of learning difficult skills. Allowing children to learn naturally by engaging them in purposeful play is key to investing in their lifelong interest in learning.
Amplify. (2015). Amplify Games. Retrieved January 17, 1980, from https://s3.amazonaws.com/amplify-assets/pdf/amplifySTEMGamesWhitePaperV4.pdf
Amplify. (n.d.). Retrieved January 17, 2017, from https://www.amplify.com/games/stem
Chang, S. (2017). Amplify . Retrieved January 17, 2017, from https://www.amplify.com/viewpoints/only-math-can-save-a-city-in-amplifys-game-twelve-a-dozen
Dweck, C., Walton, G., & Cohen, G. (2014). Academic Tenacity. Retrieved January 17, 2017, from https://ed.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/manual/dweck-walton-cohen-2014.pdf
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