The Self Efficiency Theory Education Essay

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This chapter presents the literature review on the area of study. It gives an insight or reviews previous and existing works that have been conducted in the same area. This chapter is organized into nine sections. The first section gives an introduction about educational games and other teaching techniques. Meanwhile, the second sheds light on the overview of this study. The third section discusses the issues regarding the teaching of mathematics. The fourth section shows the importance of games in education. The fifth section highlights the issues regarding mathematics and Jeopardy. The sixth section describes the relation between math and Jeopardy. The seventh section introduces the self efficiency theory that is adopted in the teaching of mathematics. The eighth section reports the metacognition skills in teaching math. Finally, the ninth section reports other related and previous works.

2.1 Introduction

Games are defined as activities providing entertainment or amusement; most people use them to pass time, while some really make use of games for educational issues to help students increase their level of understanding as well as improve the knowledge they have in a practical way. This helps them to have a clear idea of how to deal with different situations or sums in the simplest form whatsoever. A mathematician views games as models of competitive situations that identify interested parties and stipulate rules governing all aspects of the competitions, used in game theory to determine the optimal course of action for interested parties. Constant changes in society demand changes in educational approaches. Developments in educational technology, however, do not decrease or in any way affect the importance of an educator's role in students' learning (Sezgin, 2003). Part of a faculty's role in students' education is to determine an appropriate teaching strategy that would ensure maximum learning and development among students. An assortment of strategies is available to teaching staff aside from the traditional lecture. Usage of these strategies is important since their appeal varies to diverse students (Brigham & Rowles, 2004). It has been accepted widely that students demonstrate variations in learning styles (Sadler-Smith, 1997).

Traditional methods of teaching elementary students consist mainly of teacher-student learning. The conventional ways such as working with textbooks, quizzes and set works are based on students' ability and desire to self-regulate. Lecture-based dissemination of information, although time-efficient, makes students passive and sedentary learners. Background of the topic and concepts are delivered by the teacher, and students become contented with what is provided to them (Baines & Slutsky, 2009; Cashin, 1990).

Non-traditional methods such as usage of algorithms, case studies, dialogues, demonstrations and educational games, on the other hand, transform passivity among students into active and independent learning. These methods try to connect the topic to real-life situations making it relevant to students. The ability to personally relate to the topic increases concept retention in comparison to memorization (Ambrosio & Kastberg, 1995).  This concurs with Confucius who once said, "I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, involve me and I understand". In non-traditional methods, the teacher is not the sole source of knowledge and information. Student's feedbacks and input is as important and informative as well (Rubin, 1999).

2.2 Educational Games

The emergence of alternative and non-traditional teaching methods that employs active involvement, feedback, complexity, repetition, emotions, physiologic events and psychomotor ability, as well as the increasing body of research on the effectiveness of non-traditional teaching strategies in different teaching-learning situations in the classroom, have opened up the opportunity for teachers to utilize non-traditional teaching strategies in conjunction with the traditional methods of teaching. Other teaching methods utilize a more participatory approach between the teacher and the students. Alternative teaching methods that are more widely used now include use of algorithm, case studies and demonstration.

An algorithm is a step-by-step procedure of solving a problem. It is a flow of instructions where each step is answerable by a 'yes' or 'no' and enhances students' problem-solving abilities. Debates and structured controversies provide students an opportunity to discuss a topic based on their own understanding, thus enhancing reasoning, judgments, logical and analytical skills although it can create conflicts of opinion among students. Case studies/presentation, on the other hand, is an in-depth analysis of a real-life experience requiring a great amount of time for preparation, and inadequate knowledge prior to presentation may result in poor learning among other students. Demonstration is showing how a process or technique is done. This strategy utilizes psychomotor skills and depends on students' acquisition abilities. It requires faculty supervision and availability of equipments.

There are also relatively new and non-traditional strategies in teaching that are fast gaining popularity as teachers are constantly looking for new ways of presenting their lessons (Swan & Simpson, 2003). One such method is the use of educational games. An educational game is an activity set in a classroom setting governed by specific rules where players compete against each other using knowledge and skill to achieve a desired end. The application of this non-traditional method can be a positive, enjoyable, engaging and interactive for reinforcing information. Student-to-student learning is said to increase motivation and improve active learning, critical thinking and concept retention (Brigham & Rowles, 2004).

The very nature of playing is educational (Oppenheim, 1984). According to Maxwell (1982), games are potent inducers of academic capability; however, they have very little recognition and application in current curriculum. Educational games like video, online and simulation in a classroom setting, initially captures students' attention and provides an enthusiastic and enjoyable setting for learning. It allows them to learn and develop critical thinking in a stress-free environment where questions can be addressed more readily. Most educational games are based on popular game shows like what's that Intervention based from Family Feud, Wheel of Fortune and Math Jeopardy based on Jeopardy, while some are based on board games like Bingo, crossword puzzles, tic-tac-toe, sudoku and name games (Glendon & Ulrich, 2005).

Kolb (1984) further categorized educational games according to their functions. He divided them into `games for self-analysis`, `games for communication and collaboration` and `system games`. Games for self-analysis provide students an insight about other people, situations or problems. Games for communication and collaboration allow students to work together to achieve a common goal. Communication plays a vital role in this category since it requires students to suggest and collate their ideas. Lastly, a system game allows students to understand how a system functions as a whole. It provides them an idea that a system is composed of, in different parts, each as important as the other.

For over a decade now, educational games have been utilized by educators as an alternative means of teaching. Various studies have shown that the effects of educational games in student learning were mostly positive and enhance motivation for further development (Leach & Sugarman, 2006). Ury and King (1995) described how library instructions were reinforced in freshmen students at Owen Library in Northwest Missouri State University by playing a Jeopardy-based game or Name Game at the end of the orientation. At Simmons College, librarians let freshmen play Jeopardy games to provide information about services offered at the library in a fun, stress-free and approachable way (Krajewski & Piroli, 2002).

In an article from WR News, a program called Arithmetickles, combined from words Arithmetic and tickles, was being implemented in Park Groove Elementary School. The said program aims to instill the idea that "math can be fun" in children's minds. As part of the program, they incorporated mathematics into a game of tic-tac-toe. Questions, trivia and math problems are asked and whoever answers it correctly gets to choose 'x' or 'o'. Moreover, a teacher in Florida struggles with student's participation, making her class interesting, and learning achievement of her students in vocabulary. However, when she started using games as her approach in teaching vocabulary, her students became enthusiastic on the subject matter. They even looked forward to each lesson, and eventually, their grades increased (Baines & Slutsky, 2009).

Research studies are constant in illustrating that students' do benefit from educational games, not just in terms of motivation and overall learning experience as well as its capacity to address student diversity (Randell & Cripe, 1999). Various researches also show that an educator who uses educational games in teaching enhances concept retention among their students (Boettcher et al., 1994).

Table 2.1: The advantages and disadvantages of education games (Nodoushan, 2009)



Familiarize children with technical language

Is knowledge in action and context

Bring knowledge and practice together

Alleviate job crisis

Families gamer with the c-culture of different professions

May be abused by terrorist group

May hider socialization

May result in a detachment from reality

2.3 Teaching Mathematics

Mathematics educators often teach tasks covering foreign ground due to revisions in the curriculum. This situation is of common occurrence that math educator's face, and planning plays a vital role in challenges like this. Educators unanimously agree that planning is an essential part of teaching and directly affects students' learning progression. Clark and Yinger (1987) described the functions of planning as a means to condense vagueness and provide a sense of direction. It also allows teachers to direct the flow of information and finally, create potential learning procedures wherein students may participate. A study conducted for Mathematics teachers in school year 2007-2008 found out that 76% of teachers arrange and select an approach to use and prepare equipments to be utilized in the subject. Furthermore, 86% of teachers relate their subject matter to real- life situations to increase understanding and motivation. It also showed that 88% of teachers utilize activities that promote student participation although only 50% use alternative methods in teaching (Sengül, 2009).

Many researchers have attempted to understand that the introduction of games into the learning of mathematics is characterized as a combination of fantasy, challenge and curiosity. It is also viewed as a level of engagement which is described as 'flow' where players become oblivious to distractions around them and increases their level of concentration, this leads to a neglect of other activities often assumed to be automatically more worthy. Many other researchers see games as inherently valuable leading to development of a range of skills and competences that may transfer to other social and work-related uses of digital technology.

Games take up a large amount of time which could be spent on more worthy activities such as education and learning with fun but the advantages could be well specified in the improvement of students academically, because games during learning promotes the level of attention and concentration which teachers, parents and policy makers wished children apply during learning. Therefore, the education sector in Saudi Arabia needs to learn and use games in order to enhance proper learning processes.

2.4 Games for Educational Purposes

There are two major key themes common to the development of games for educational purposes. They are stated as follows:

The ability of games to motivate learners using certain equipment to make learning fun.

A belief that learning through doing which is in games offers a powerful learning tool.

Most edutainment has failed to realize expectations either because:

The games have been too simplistic in comparison to class work or learning.

The task is repetitive which means it is based on continually doing sums and thus quickly becomes boring.

The task is poorly designed and does not support progressive understanding.

The target audience becomes aware that it is being coerced in "learning" in possibly a patronizing manner.

The target of any activities is severely limited within the game, which concerns certain skills or accumulation of homogenous content.

The debate on making learning mathematics fun often assumes that students do not enjoy learning; yet, much research evidence contradicts this, arguing that students do enjoy learning when they have a sense of their own progression and where the learning is relevant and appropriate. This focus on fun and games in learning may in-fact be a red herring. Instead, it might be worth returning to some early analysis that describes the pleasures of games played as a flow. The conditions likely to induce "flow "state are characterized by Malone (1980) as:

The activity should be structured in a way that the player can increase or decrease the level of challenges faced in order to match exactly, personal skills with the requirements for action.

There should be clear criteria for performance i.e. a player should be able to evaluate how well or how poorly he or she is doing at any time.

The activity should provide concrete feedbacks to the players so that they can tell how well they are meeting the criteria of performance.

It should simplify the learner's activities along with the perceptual level by customizing the internal and external learner abilities.

It should provide a different range of challenges that affect learner's performance by having a broad range of challenges and possibly several qualitatively.

Various forms of research have been carried out by numerous researchers on the motivation of learning through the use of games and one of the earliest and most cited research work was done by Thomas Malone& Lepper (1987) who identified three main ways in which games were able to motivate players. These were categorized as "fantasy", "challenges" and "curiosity".

Presumably, the fact that something does happen encourages players to proceed and the quality of what happens in terms of users' engagement is the factor that keeps them playing, and at the same time learning altogether. A key concept that frequently emerges in the literature is that of "flow" which was first discussed by Csikszentmihalyi (1990). Debates on the issue of "flow" centers around how the "state" can be created in an individual and measuring how it might make a person more receptive to receiving knowledge, comprehending and using educational- based content and skills.

In order to understand the potential role of mainstream games in supporting learning, what is needed most is to know what learning is, and how the use of games could foster and increase learning possibilities. This research views learning through adaptation of games as alternatively a process which leads to change in behavior, change in ways of thinking, achievement of personal potential or development of capacity to operate within particular communities. The table below which was illustrated and adapted from Smith (1999) defines the key battle lines in this research.

Table 2.2: Outcome of learning using games Smith (1999)






View of the learning process

Changes behavior

Process entirely in the head of the learner including insight, information, processing, memory and perception.

A development of personal potential.

Interaction and observation in a group context

Site of learning

External resources and task are what matters

Making connections in learners head is what matters

Emotion, attitude

and thinking are important

Learning needs a relationship between people and environment

Purpose in education

Produce behavioral changes in desired direction

Develop capacity and skills to better learning

Become self reliant, autonomous and confident

Full participation in communities of practice i.e. graduation from apprenticeship to craftsmanship.

2.5 Learning Mathematics

Mathematics is a subject in which most children take pleasure in. However, many of the students view mathematics as a progression of challenges and obstacles that they have to go through with zeal and purpose. Still, many would dread this subject because they view it as a disappointing and insignificant experience. Mathematics fails to make children feel successful in their studies (Gates, 2001). Most students dislike mathematics for the following reasons:

Previous negative experience with mathematics;

Fear of committing errors in calculations;

Difficulty in understanding concepts, among others. There are several reasons why a student may feel that he/she is a failure in mathematics. The role of the teacher comes in because he/she has to solve the students' problem and help them through their success. Students should be motivated and challenged by telling them that mathematics is a wonderful subject and it is a part of daily life.

Different issues are facing students during the learning process which is assigned to the teachers as well as the teacher has to solve the problems and work toward a student's success. During the teaching process of mathematics, teachers need to interact with the students, and use easy/ simple methods to make students motivated in learning the mathematics concepts. Students need to be motivated and challenged.  The key to success is to show the students how wonderful mathematics really is and that mathematics is in our daily lives and we cannot get away from it.  First, the teacher must love or have a passion for mathematics and exhibit enthusiasm to their students. This is because the pleasure which few numbers of students find in learning mathematics stands to be the major problem that majority of students face because they could not cope with the memorizing of formulas and steps to be taken when solving mathematical problems. These groups of students find it as a subject that is draining, brain-tasking, and takes a lot of time thinking of possible solutions or outcomes and after this is done, they still have the doubt on the answers which they had come up with, if it is right or wrong. The fear of not getting the right answers makes the students furious and not really interested in doing much when they are in a mathematics class. This makes the process of learning mathematics a major problem in the students' attitude towards learning mathematics.

Another major problem faced while learning mathematics is the mode of administering the subject to the student by the teacher. Different teachers follow different approaches which might be confusing to the student's ability of comprehension. In light of this, students who had being taught of a particular approach to solve a sum and afterwards mingle with a friend from another school who has another method of approach, become confused and less interested to give full participation when the class is being taught.

Furthermore, learning in a mathematics class is considered boring by some students because the subject matter is not well simplified in a way the students can easily understand and enable them to do more practice by them after being taught in the classroom. Therefore, majority of students always hope that mathematics is removed from the classroom schedule so that they can feel free and not get stressed out trying to solve a problem they do not really know if it is solved correctly. Most students fear that they will never be able to understand the subject, and thereby lose all interest about the subject.

2.6 Math and Jeopardy

Relating mathematics problems to real-world situations helps students connect mathematics to their own interests and concerns, and motivates them to use mathematics in activities outside school. It enables them to generate their own mathematical problems based on present topics or individual experience, and find a solution on their own. In this strategy, passivity in learning has been transformed. The personal connection established by the student to the subject, provides an opportunity to develop active learning and improve critical thinking autonomously (Olive, 2005).

A version of educational Jeopardy called Math Jeopardy is used specifically for assessing mathematics skills as well as in conducting mathematics drills. The game consists of math-based questions, trivia and problem solving. The teacher will choose the first question and any team may answer. The first team to answer the question correctly gets to choose the next question. Each question answered corresponds to a point and questions range from easy to hard. The harder the question, the bigger the equivalent point. Incorporating mathematics in a game of Jeopardy holds a student's attention better than lectures (Spitzer & Roddick, 2008).

The use of games in teaching-learning environments has been reported to improve learning achievements and learning outcomes. Learning achievement is most commonly measured through concept recall by means of drills and tests (Prince, 2004). Learning outcomes, on the other hand, is multifaceted and include cognitive achievement, metacognitive awareness and motivation (Ke, 2008). Cognitive achievement is defined as mathematics skills gained by the students. Metacognitive awareness, on the other hand, is knowledge and regulation of cognition or the way the students learn. Furthermore, motivation is the means of digging the students' interests in learning mathematics (Ke, 2008). All these learning outcomes were measured by Ke (2008) in relation to the effectiveness of computer games in learning mathematics.

Some early childhood teachers find mathematics as a difficult subject matter to teach (Copley & Padrón, 1999). According to Lee & Ginsburg (2007), a number of educators believe that mathematics should be taught to young children by means of playing games and other day to day activities. Math Jeopardy is a common educational game that is being used by educators. In Spitzer & Roddick (2007), Mr. Hammond, a 5th grade mathematics teacher used Math Jeopardy as a means to review for a test, a variation from traditional methods of presenting a topic and assessing how much his students have learned. Relating mathematics to real-life situations and interactive games like Jeopardy, motivates and increases awareness of the relevance of the subject even outside school and non-curricular activities.

Students are able to make their own mathematics problems based on their personal experiences as well. These student-made problems can be used for reviewing and on the examination itself. In this technique, the student is participating and students output is being put to use as well. It's like hitting two birds with one stone (Olive, 2005). Ultimately, the Math Jeopardy Game promotes students' thinking skills, teamwork, individuality and pride in learning (Bjorn, 1994).

2.7 Self-Efficacy Theory

This theory is about a person's belief about his or her ability to organize and execute courses of action necessary to achieve a goal. Because of its effect on personal choice, motivation, effort, and persis­tence, self-efficacy has severe implications for individual behaviours (Ormrod, 2006). Bandura (1988) has addressed the main factors that affect students' feelings of positive self-efficacy. They are:

Lock-step sequences of instruction that may cause some children to get lost along the way,

Ability groupings that further diminish the self-efficacy of those in lower ranks, and

Competitive practices in which many students are doomed to failure from the start.

2.8 Metacognitive Skills

Metacognitive skills refer to how learners understand process information and solve different learning issues. It is about their own learning processes (Halpern, 1996). Metacognitive and cognitive techniques in representing the knowledge behavior may overlap with different external and internal techniques such as questioning which reflects the respondents or learner's behavior for certain items. Metacognitive strategy customizes the behavioral issues for learning and solving problems which correlated in the purpose of using that strategy. The significance of using both cognitive and metacognitive strategies in different measurements are closely intertwined and are dependent upon each other, any attempt to examine one without acknowledging the other would not provide an adequate picture (Halpern, 1996).

2.9 Related Studies

As children learn basic skills and fundamental knowledge via playing games, therefore, games in the academic curriculum provides an effective and enjoyable means of disseminating information. When games are incorporated into a discussion, educators no longer need to coerce students into participating (Baines & Slutsky, 2009). According to a recent study, 60% of students recognize educational games as equivalent to lecture in providing information, and developing skills and techniques (Anderson, 2005). Initially, educational games hold students' attention better than conventional lectures. Relating the topic to a game induces curiosity and motivates students to know more, independently or not.

A significant learning experience ensures teacher-student and student-student participation. Educational games create more areas for student participation. It provides opportunities for students to think and apply knowledge into practice simultaneously (Gifford, 2001). It also creates a stress-free environment for learning and development, and reinforces information in an innovative way (Leach & Sugarman, 2006; Pennington & Hawley, 1995). Games as an instructional method give teachers an opportunity to present instantaneous feedback or reaction, and immediate clarification of concepts and theories (Oblinger, 2003).

A case study also stated that mathematics games promote positive attitudes towards the subject; however were not able to enhance cognitive and metacognitive skills in students (Ke, 2008). According to Dempsey, Rasmussen, and Lucassen (1996), there is no direct relation involving cognitive learning and mathematics games.

A study by Andrew & Simon (2006) stated the considerable enthusiastic thoughts for optimizing the digital educational games paradigms to the learning fields and other educational sectors. This study described different approaches for achieving integration that shows the difficulties and weaknesses in linking the game-playing activity to transferable social or conceptual processes and skills. This study has identified the success factors for integrating the digital gaming in the learning fields based on 'dialogue game' approach to learning in cyberspace related to Wittgenstein's notion of a 'language game' that seeks to explicitly link game-playing activity to the development of generic dialogical and reasoning skills that lead to improved conceptual understanding and collaborative knowledge refinement. Different potential users have been selected to evaluate the proposed technique based on the selected approach. This study has applied a socio-cognitive tool called InterLoc that organizes, mediates, structures and scaffolds educational dialogue games (Andrew & Simon, 2006).

Another study by Birgitte & Bente (2007) reported the usefulness of using the global game structures for obtaining better learning. The study focused on language learning, and teaching students how to learn in more creative ways followed by student's behaviour for learning. This study proposed a theoretical argument for using the global game theories in facilitating the learning process on students. In addition, the requirements of proposing this theoretical framework was modelled on perspectives of language teaching and learning. Finally, the study applied this theory in the developing of the prototype of the digitally based educational platform called "Mingoville" (Birgitte & Bente, 2007).

A study by Aida & Wan (2009) stated the effectiveness of using motivation for solving mathematical problems. The main aim of this study was to identify students' level of effort and students' level of motivation in determining the mathematical problems which differed by gender, current cumulative grade point average (CGPA) and year of study. A questionnaire was administered in this study for data gathering purposes. The study revealed a significant difference in overall motivation scores between the female and male respondents. Additionally, a significant positive correlation was found between effort, self-efficacy, and overall motivation with students' overall academic achievement (Aida & Wan, 2009).

Christa (2006) reported the category system for organizing the metacognitive activities. This study presented the reflection of activities which affects students understanding within several metacognitive activities. This study adopted an essay exam for measuring the reflection of student's activities during the learning process. The findings of this study demonstrated that it proved to be useful to consider different nuances of reflection (Christa, 2006).

Mohini & Tan (2005) investigated the requirements of solving mathematical problems with differing met cognitive behaviors. In this research, a case study was used for determining the metacognitive type and pattern in use and the associated achievement in justifying the mathematical needs. This study applied existence metacognitive behavior elements such as; suggest a plan, assess difficulty, review progress, recognize error, new development and self-questioning. The study found that there is a significant relationship between the types of metacognitive behaviours and the performance of students along with the process of problem solving (Mohini & Tan, 2005).

In another study, Elmar & Christa (2004) addressed the success factors in developing a theoretical model for mathematical problem solving. They developed a theoretical model which has been adopted into four teaching scenes. These scenes focused on the issues of discursive lesson culture, and pupils representations of other relevant issues (Elmar & Christa, 2004). Their study also aimed to analyze components of metacognition for certain mathematical procedures which helped to understand mathematical problems in a more meaningful way.

Finally, a study by Andre (1996) measured the levels of job satisfaction and motivation. This study employed a survey technique for collecting data in a sample of 50 teachers. Experience Sampling Method (ESM) was used for selecting the teachers. This study found that job satisfaction and motivation related strongly with responsibility levels, gender, subject, age, years of teaching experience, and activity (Andre, 1996).

2.10 Summary

Educational games are being incorporated in almost every area of academy. In elementary curriculum to higher education, from library orientation, medical and nursing concepts, psychology, vocabulary, history, and mathematics. Innovations in teaching methods have come a long way from chalk and board lectures. Student participation, student input during discussion, feedbacks and student-to-student learning are given more value now than before. Constant changes in curriculum are met with the emergence of non-traditional methods of disseminating information and ensuring better learning experience both for teachers and students. Effects of non-traditional methods are widely accepted and slowly increasing in application. Therefore, the current study endeavors to assess the effects of Math Jeopardy on the achievement and learning outcomes of students in Saudi Arabia.