Mobile Games to Enhance Word Reading and Writing Skills in PreK public schools

Mobile Games to Enhance Word Reading and Writing Skills in PreK public schools

First Author: Americo N. Amorim -- Escribo Inovação para o Aprendizado
Additional authors/chairs: 
Amanda Christina Gomes Pereira Falcão; Emilia X. S. Albuquerque; Vanessa Cristina da Silva; Sheila Carvalho dos Santos Francisco
Keywords: Game-based learning, Reading acquisition, Preschool, Kindergarten, Computer-Assisted
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: The increased use of smartphones and tablets sets the stage for new mobile-based educational programs that seek to increase student learning and engagement. This study examines the effectiveness of a newly developed game-enhanced program to teach word reading and writing skills to PreK students.

Method: An experimental trial was conducted with 1,030 students from 80 classrooms from 12 public schools. Quantitative pre- and post-tests were employed. Experimental classrooms played a sequence of 20 games over three months. Control classrooms did not receive the intervention. Each 45-minute instructional session targeted a specific learning objective and was supported by a game. Students played in pairs using tablets. All sessions were overseen by a research assistant.

Results: The gamified program effect sizes (ES) for the four-year-old classrooms were d = 0.24 for reading and d = 0.43 for writing. For the five-year-old students the effect sizes were d = 0.38 for reading and d = 0.47 for writing. Comparing this sample of public-school students with private school children from a previous study we found that the average reading score of the four-year-old public-school students was 49% lower than the private school students. After using the program, the reading gap was reduced from 49% to 16% in the experimental classrooms.

Conclusions: The results demonstrated that the gamified program was capable of empowering students in experimental classrooms and advancing their literacy skills more than students in control classrooms. More important, experimental classrooms reduced the word reading achievement gap when compared to private school students.