Middle School Students and Fractions in WhyPower: Gaming, Repetition and Learning Outcomes
Abstract: In the WhyPower project, hosted in the virtual world Whyville, middle school students analyzed nine weeks of Whyville’s virtual power usage history. These activities exercised proportional thinking. Later, 939 students with varying degrees of experience in WhyPower completed a survey. The survey included three proportional reasoning questions. Analysis indicated that students aged 12-14 who played WhyPower answered more questions correctly, at statistical significance and with small to moderate effect size. Analysis indicated less significant differences with older students. High game repetition was negatively associated with correct proportional reasoning answers. The author speculates that repetitive play represented attempts to conquer challenging material. Results suggest that age-appropriate content in real-world context can quickly bring selected students to new levels of understanding.