Effectiveness of computerized drill and practice games in teaching basic math facts

This study investigates the effects on students with a learning disability of embedding a drill and practice task within an arcade game-like context. We identified 30 learning-disabled and 30 nondisabled students who had conceptual understanding of addition but had not achieved automaticity in addition facts. We trained students on either a drill-and-practice game or an unadorned, straightforward drill (i.e., "plain vanilla") program. We assessed automaticity in three modes of responding - oral, computer keyboard, and written response. There was a significant interaction effect indicating that the learning-disabled students were relatively disadvantaged by repeated practice in the game format. We infer learning-disabled students' lower performance is attributed to attentional difficulties, particularly selective attention problems, when potentially distracting elements of a game environment are present.

Christensen, C., & Gerber, M.
Exceptionality, Vol. 1 (3), 149-165.
Related Research
Content Area: 
Grade Level: 
early elementary
intermediate elementary
middle school
IDEA Disability Category: 
specific learning disability
Instructional Support: 
opportunities to learn concepts
practice and reinforcement activities
NCTM Content Standards: 
number and operations
Counting & Cardinality
Number & Operations in Base Ten
Number & Operations – Fractions
The Number System