Carnegie Learning, Inc. Higher Education Tech Innovation

The Innovation: The Mathematics Fluency Data Collaborative (MFDC)

Today’s young people enjoy online games. MFDC applies this pastime to learning, developing online games that increase students’ fluency in basic mathematical problem solving and improve developmental math performance. The games are built on an open source HTML5/Javascript platform and contain data logging to facilitate student performance and online learning analysis. 

Results Achieved: Students enjoyed the games, and the project’s controlled pilot showed that even a small amount of gameplay can result in large improvements on pen and pencil tests, and that these improvements persist over time. In three of five experiments:

  • Students retained significant improvement on a week-delayed post-test.
  • Students reported higher confidence in their math abilities.

The field test emphasized the importance of providing students with both a sense of accomplishment from playing the games and demonstrating the games’ relevance to their learning.

Long term Goal: To continue to grow the math game user base to half a million students, through the incorporation of the games into Carnegie Learning products and other sources, and through expansion to middle and high school students.

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Snowboard Teaches Numerical Comparison
Learning math through engaging video games.

The Grant Project:

Carnegie Learning, Inc. received its Building Blocks for College Completion program grant in April 2011.

NGLC funding enabled the project team to build games and to evaluate their learning outcomes at three different scales:

  • A small, controlled, pilot at Carlow University (n=18);
  • A larger field experiment of developmental math students at Pellissippi State Community College (n=553);
  • A very large-scale online experiment (n=76,430).

Since the program, Carnegie Learning promoted its games’ adoption in several ways:

  • Integrated the games into its Cognitive Tutor software
  • Made its game, Battleship Numberline, available on BrainPop, a child-focused educational website
  • Placed the games’ source code in an open repository
  • Created awareness in publications, conference presentations, and summer schools

In addition, Carnegie Learning and Carnegie Mellon University are working with the ADL project to adapt the games based on student “mindsets” to directly address concerns that students didn’t appreciate how practicing pre-requisite knowledge helps “build their brain” in a way that accelerates new learning. This contract will promote development of new game features designed to increase student motivation and usage; to migrate the games to mobile devices, and to make the game adaptive.


  • Pellissippi State Community College
  • Carlow University
  • Carnegie Mellon University
  • New York University
  • University of North Carolina, Charlotte
  • CMU/Social Designs