Boosting Math Achievement with Game-Based Learning

Schools are under pressure to lift educational performance and graduation rates for all students, meaning every student needs to have access to the resources and educational rigor they need — particularly as many students continue to struggle at the elementary and early secondary grade level in mathematics. Striving learners need to be supported with equitable instruction that provides enrichment, remediation, and intensive intervention.

Most US schools and districts employ multi-level systems of support to afford the differentiated mathematics instruction required to address the diversity of skills in numeracy for all students entering the class. Math curricula must incorporate strong evidence-based, supplemental intervention curriculum programs so each student is well prepared for success in secondary math.

Containing a variety of multi-modal resources, a supplemental math intervention program can be implemented with any core instruction model and should accommodate various learning and expression styles to support the needs of a diverse student population. The best programs align to regular instructional models and state standards and enable teacher-led, independent learning. The game-based and interactive approaches to math instruction engage learners and provide educators with easy-to-implement tools to ensure equitable access to mathematical concepts and application.

Effective Teaching with Interactive, Multimodal Experiences

According to university researchers, the most effective learning environments combine verbal and non-verbal representations of knowledge and use a combination of visual and auditory inputs (Moreno, et al. 2007). The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) endorses the inclusion of visual and graphic depictions of problems as one of several key strategies to support struggling learners (NCTM, 2007). Accompanying these different modalities, it is important that educators also provide students with opportunities for interactive, visual learning.

Game-Based Learning Experiences

One way to increase visual learning is by leveraging purposeful game play to engage students and build their understanding of critical math skills. As the leading research recommends, games should be incorporated into instruction, together with other methods of instruction such as explicit teacher-driven modeling, and student-driven guided practice.

For learners who approach math with difficulty or discomfort, math games provide a more engaging context for introducing and practicing new skills. In other words, the impact on motivation and engagement alone can explain much of the positive impact from games (Ernest, 1986). Games provide students with opportunities to drive their own learning, develop problem solving skills, and receive immediate feedback, encouraging productive struggle and persistence in the face of temporary setbacks, according to the NCTM.

Hands-On Learning Experiences

It is also important for students to have opportunities for hands-on, tactile learning in the math classroom. Educators can use manipulatives and concrete examples to develop each learner’s understanding across a continuum of concrete, representational and abstract reasoning skills. Manipulatives can be used both in physical form and through digital applications.

When students are provided these learning opportunities involving manipulatives, combined with game-based learning experiences, they often report higher levels of interest in math (Gundogdu, 2013).

To read more about how game-based learning supports achievement in elementary and early secondary learners, take a look at this research paper titled: Supplemental Math Intervention: Three Modes Boost Achievement in Elementary and Middle School Learners. To learn more how Arrive Math Booster can help, check out the new Arrive Math Booster Unboxing video or visit


Ernest, P. (1986). Games. A rationale for their use in the teaching of mathematics in school. Mathematics in School, 15(1), 2–5.

Gundogdu, M. (2013, August). The impact of manipulatives on middle school special ED students’ learning integers (M.A. Thesis). California State University, Long Beach. Retrieved from

Moreno, R., & Mayer, R. (2007). Interactive multimodal learning environments. Educational Psychology Review, 19(3), 309–326.

National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). (2007). Effective Strategies for Teaching Students with Difficulties (Research Brief). Retrieved from