Rachel Lambert 
UC Santa Barbara, Department of Education

Students in California fell far behind in mathematics during the pandemic. At the same time, students have emerged from the pandemic with greater rates of anxiety and mental health concerns. Even before the pandemic, typical intervention practices were critiqued as stigmatizing, as well as focused on skill and drill rather than student understanding. We want math intervention that is not only effective, but that students (and teachers) truly enjoy, a time of the day to look forward to rather than to dread. Working closely with our local district, we have started a pilot project to redesign math intervention to work around these problems using strategic support and non-digital math games.

Our current pilot project has nine 3rd and 4th grade classrooms doing a GAMEs time twice a week. A trained undergraduate from our university supports students in strategic development, focused particularly on multiplication. We are applying for this grant to expand our work in three ways:

  1. We want to expand the number of classrooms and students who will have an undergraduate to support their GAMEs time, also providing professional development for the teachers.
  2. Our second aim is to provide professional development for teachers across the district on using games for math intervention, including middle and high school teachers who particularly have challenges when students need more support with math skills at earlier grades.
  3. Our final aim is to research the efficacy of game play combined with strategic coaching, by choosing a few games and conducting small, rigorous studies of their effects on student learning.

We have been surprised at how little research exists on math games that are not digital, and we want to contribute knowledge that will be useful to not only teachers, but parents and policy makers. 


  • Santa Barbara Unified School District
  • California Mathematics Project Statewide Office

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