MaGrid – Early Math Learning Solution
Developing mathematical ability is a process, which unfolds during interactions between learner and teacher. It requires effective communication. Consequently, language used to define mathematical concepts and ideas plays a key role in this process. Therefore, the proficiency in the language of instruction has a significant influence on learning mathematics. Accordingly, the learning of mathematics by second language learners (students whose primary language is different from the language of instruction) raises some critical issues because many of these children have weaker skills in the language of instruction than their native peers. Second language learners are thus at risk of obtaining a poor mathematical foundation due to language barriers and lagging behind their native peers in formal math education.
The LUCET (Luxembourg Centre for Educational Testing) developed an effective language-neutral early math application, called MaGrid. With MaGrid, the researchers aim to foster young learners' mathematical abilities without relying on their proficiency in any languages. This allows to level non-native students with their native peers and thereby prevent potential performance gaps already present prior to formal schooling, Overcoming the language barrier was possible by nearly eliminating the language burden and emphasizing visual content rather than verbal instruction in the training of mathematical concepts. MaGrid visually presents training tasks and concepts and allows students to explore an interactive environment to find a solution to the given task. To provide learners with a profound, comprehensive, and flexible understanding of basic mathematical concepts, the application is equipped with a large number of different training tasks targeting distinct aspects of early visuo-spatial and number-specific knowledge.
Two research studies have been conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of the MaGrid application in training different aspects of visuo-spatial and early numerical abilities on preschoolers These empirical studies demonstrated that students who participated in the early mathematics training program using the MaGrid application performed significantly better on various measures of early mathematical abilities. The findings further provide evidence that the MaGrid application offers an effective way to reinforce early spatial and numerical skills for all preschoolers, including children from populations that have traditionally been underserved (i.e. second-language learners). Last but not least, the findings reveal that this innovative approach can be smoothly integrated into day-to-day schooling.
MaGrid is the brainchild of Prof. Romain Martin. What started as an (award-winning) interdisciplinary tandem doctoral project at LUCET, emerged into an FNR Jump Pathfinder/PoC project with the objective to transform MaGrid into an EdTech startup company. The Luxembourg Ministry of Education, more precisely SCRIPT, an important partner since day one, already acquired a MaGrid license for the entire national education sector.