Serious Mathematics Games Bolster Self-Concept and Self-Efficacy in Women Learners

Dissertation for Doctor of Education Defended

April 14, 2017 @ Northcentral University, online


The possible benefits of digital mathematics games for adult women’s self-beliefs were the focus of this study.  Female adult learners face many challenges in education, and successful completion of mathematics courses continues to be one of these challenges.  While there are many reasons for these challenges, two critical challenges are learners’ mathematics self-concept and mathematics self-efficacy.  The specific problem was the unknown effectiveness of digital games to improve women learners’ self-concept and self-efficacy.  The purpose of this quantitative quasi-experimental study, using a pretest – posttest design, with a treatment group and a control group, was to determine if playing digital mathematics games for 30 minutes in a single sitting would improve female adult learners’ self-concept and self-efficacy more than those who played non-mathematics digital games.  A selective stratified sample was used. The participants were 68 women volunteer undergraduate students, enrolled in a general education composition course at an accredited university teaching courses online where the researcher teaches.  The Math Confidence Scale was used to measure the mathematical self-concept for both the pretest and posttest.  A Mann-Whitney U test was used to test the null hypotheses for between group differences.  With the test statistic UT = 505 and critical value U = 410.0838, there was no statistically significant difference between the treatment and control groups.  The Mathematics Self-Efficacy Scale was used to measure the mathematical self-efficacy for both the pretest and posttest.  A Mann-Whitney U test was used to test the null hypotheses for between group differences.  With the test statistic UT = 555 and critical value U = 404.2139, there was no statistically significant difference between the treatment and control groups.  However, the Wilcoxon signed-rank test tested changes from the pretest to the posttest for the treatment group, which did show a statistically significant difference for both self-beliefs.  The mathematical self-confident test statistic was 138 and critical value = 200.  The mathematical self-efficacy test statistic was 210 and critical value = 213.  Playing mathematical digital games improved the participants’ mathematical self-beliefs, however, there was no conclusive evidence that this increase was from playing mathematical games or games in general.  Additional research in a more controlled environment and games matching participants’ specific mathematical understanding would improve understanding of this topic.


  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: Literature Review
    • How Adults Use Mathematics
    • Mathematical Self-Concept
    • Mathematical Self-Efficacy
    • Gender Differences in Mathematics
    • Serious Games
    • Serious Mathematics Games for Adults
    • Serious Mathematics games and Self-Beliefs
  • Chapter 3: Research Method
  • Chapter 4: Findings
  • Chapter 5: Implications, Recommendations, and Conclusions
  • References
  • Appendix A: Informed Consent
  • Appendix B: Survey Questions
  • Appendix C: Recruitment Letter 1
  • Appendix D: Recruitment Letter 2
  • Appendix E: Demographic Questions
  • Appendix F: Digital Games List
  • Appendix G: Site Approval Letter 1
  • Appendix H: Site Approval Letter 2
  • Appendix I: Selected Sample Responses

Additional Resources

Digital Mathematics games for study group (all need Flash)

Title General Information Description Link
Algebra Meltdown Linear Equations and Number Machines


Young Adult game where you are the scientist putting the correct atoms in the reactor.
Fruit Splat Mixed Integer Add, Subtract & Multiply


Children’s game with several levels and timed or relaxed mode. Select the fruit that answers the arithmetic problem.
Math at the Mall Working with Money Young Adult game solving application problems at a mall, use arrow keys and make sure you walk to the end of the walkway, do not try to go in the ‘door’.
Math Man Multiplication Pac-Man type Multiplication Use arrow keys to play this just like Pac-Man, but he can only eat the ghosts that solve the arithmetic problem.
Melvin’s Make a Match Fractions From PBS Kids, children’s game, match the fractions on the potion bottles
Party Designer Area, perimeter K-12 game, where you plan the layout for a party.
PEMDAS Blaster Use Order of Operations to get the robots Young Adult game solve the arithmetic problems to shoot the bad robots and reload your weapon.
Transtar Reflections, Rotations, Dilations and Translations Young Adult game using geometric moves to make a star portal.


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