Non-digital game-based learning in the teaching of mathematics in higher education

Nitin Naik*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputConference publication


Game-based learning is usually assumed to be digital (or computer-mediated). However, there are many educational games available which do not require a computer host. Non-digital game-based learning has many advantages over digital game-based learning, including: cost effectiveness, low administrative overhead, it demands few prerequisite skills, and provides opportunities for enhanced social interaction. Consequently, it places much lighter burdens on teachers and learners in terms of resourcing, skills development and the like. However, non-digital games are unfashionable: they often considered inappropriate for higher educational teaching aids for adults, and they are perceived to be relatively unsophisticated. I started teaching mathematics to first year computer science undergraduate students three years ago at Aberystwyth University, in the UK. Because the cohort students lacked experience of formal instruction in mathematics at intermediate or higher levels, I investigated the possibility of employing non-digital game-based learning in higher education in order to instruct them. To this end, I adapted a small number of popular games to the teaching of selected mathematical principles. I devised six new games in all: arithmetic-fractions rummy, a decimal crossword puzzle, a logarithmic and exponential jigsaw, an algebraic equations bingo, a binary-to-decimal conversion magic box, and a decimalto- binary conversion magic box. The results suggested that non-digital game-based learning is both motivational and has a positive impact on learning outcomes. Furthermore, it is possible that the pedagogical usefulness of these games is not limited to mathematics; they might readily be adapted for the teaching of other subjects. Currently I am planning to enhance and expand this approach for further experimentation and use across the university and in other disciplines, however in this paper I will introduce non-digital game-based learning for mathematics teaching in higher education, and argue for its pedagogical effectiveness with evidence of improved learning outcomes and enhanced learner experience.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the European Conference on Games-based Learning
EditorsCarsten Busch
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9781910309551
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Publication series

NameProceedings of the European Conference on Games-based Learning
ISSN (Print)2049-0992

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Authors, 2014.

Copyright 2015 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Higher education
  • Mathematics
  • Maths game
  • Non-digital game-based learning
  • Non-digital games


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