The paper Promoting Broad and Stable Improvements in Low-Income Children’s Numerical Knowledge Through Playing Number Board Games explores the effect of playing linear number board games in young children’s numerical knowledge paying particular attention to the socio-economical status of the children.
The paper reports two experiments. The design of the first study is pretty straight forward: experimental design (randomized controlled trial) with a control group (playing a similar game with colours instead of numbers) taking into account age, achievement in a pre-test and socio-economic status as dependent variables and achievement in a post-test and delayed post-test as independent variables. The conclusion is that playing the linear number board games for as little as 1 hour (divided into 5 sessions) affected positively the results in the post-tests and these results remained statistically relevant after 9 weeks.
The second study had a different aim: investigate the correlation between playing linear number board games at home and results in the pre-test. The motivation behind this study is related to the perception that low-income students have less experience with some sort of activities at home that could affect positively their learning (such as linear number board games, as shown by the first study). The data came from the pre-test of the first study and from a self-report from the students considering some popular games for children. The authors confirmed the positive effect: students that reported playing games that could be considered a linear number board game presented higher scores in the pre-test.
The authors synthesizes their conclusion as follows:
All these findings converged on two conclusions. First, differing experience with board games is one source of the gap between the numerical knowledge of children from more and less affluent backgrounds when they enter school. Second, this gap can be reduced by providing children from low-income backgrounds experience playing number board games.
My questions would be:
In my opinion, this seems to be a study very replicable and with a great potential to impact classroom practices with relatively low costs. Therefore, it is hard to understand why it does not receive more attention from the academic community.
Ramani, Geetha B., and Siegler, Robert S. . "Promoting broad and stable improvements in low‐income children’s numerical knowledge through playing number board games". Child development 79.2 (2008).