Despite Algebra being considered the "gatekeeper” to higher-level math courses, students nationwide struggle in this area. Research suggests that this is due to a weakened arithmetic foundation, which is needed before the transition to algebraic thinking. African-Americans, in particular, are underperforming in Algebra, and many other levels of math. Makin’ Math Move is a gesture based math education game. It was derived from the desire to offer a technological solution for African American students to increase their motivation and academic performance in areas needed for success in Algebra level classes. It uses African American cultural factors of movement, music and verve to appeal to students in this demographic in a more relevant way. Research shows that culturally relevant material is impactful on minority students and also that movement, when coupled with learning, has cognitive benefits. Makin’ Math Move works by supplying users with math problems and allowing them to solve them using gestures. For each of the standard math operations (add, subtract, multiply and divide), a gesture was trained and mapped to the intended operation. Students select one operand, perform a gestural operation and select an additional operand before supplying the system with their numerical input.
This paper will focus on the system design of Makin’ Math Move and the initial usability study with 6th and 7th grade African American students.The system was developed using the Unity game development platform, Adobe Fuse graphics software and the Kinect for Windows SDK. Unity served as the main component of the system; bringing together the various elements of visual design, gesture recognition and databases. Adobe Fuse provided the range of 3D characters used as avatars the mimicked the students’ motions, which were created to depict African American features. The Kinect for Windows SDK offers two applications, the Kinect Studio and Visual Gesture Builder, that allows the recording and training of gestures, as well as the creation of gesture databases. In order to build this system, a lot of the design considerations were influenced by 6th and 7th African American students; this demographic of students participated in a gesture elicitation study as well as a usability study. This initial usability study measured the gestural accuracy, overall usability and favorability, as well as the perceived cultural relevance of the system. Data suggested that further training and a second usability study, with the updated system, was required to have the gesture recognition at optimal performance, however students were excited and liked the system in its current state.
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