Mental arithmetic courseware for pre-schools

(File pix) Associate Professor Ruzinoor Che Mat showing how the Penggambaran Mental Aritmetik untuk Kanak-kanak Pra-Sekolah courseware works. Pix courtesy of UUM

NEW students, particularly those in pre-school, often find it difficult to understand the mathematics learning process, especially those that involve numbers and basic operations such as addition and subtraction.

In light of this, a group of Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) researchers developed a curriculum based on existing arithmetic mental techniques to facilitate the learning process.

Led by Associate Professor Dr Ruzinoor Che Mat from UUM’s School of Creative Industry Management and Performing Arts (SCIMPA), together with Mohd Hafiz Mahayudin and Norani Nordin, the team developed the Penggambaran Mental Aritmetik untuk Kanak-kanak Pra-Sekolah (the Visualisation of Mental Arithmetic for Pre-schoolers) courseware so that pre-schoolers could memorise numbers and understand mathematical concepts more easily.

Ruzinoor said he got the idea to develop the courseware after seeing his children face problems when asked to count fast. So he and his team used the latest technology to develop the courseware.

He said mental arithmetic could be defined as adding numbers together, multiply and perform any other mathematical operations by using the brain without writing it down or using a calculator.

“This mental arithmetic technique can help children build cognitive thinking when they need to use mental visualisation and fingers to perform basic calculation operations. With multimedia support, pre-school students can imagine the mathematical concept at a higher level.

“Assisted by the evolution of computer technology, mathematics learning for preschool children can be improved with the help of multimedia tools to be able to attract their attention and interest, what more kids today are being exposed to computers at a very early age.

“The arithmetic courseware was developed using Flash with a combination of five multimedia elements, namely text, animation, image, audio and videos, which are applicable to devices such as computers and tablet computers, which will attract them to learn mathematics.”

He said the courseware provided the foundation for young children or pre-schoolers to familiarise themselves with and understand numbers. Within the courseware are the introduction module, tutorial, quizzes and games, which could help them easily understand the concept of mathematics using mental arithmetic techniques.

According to Ruzinoor, in the introduction section, students will be exposed to mental arithmetic using hand images representing numbers with other objects, as well as audio to explain how mental arithmetic is represented in one hand, while in the tutorial section, they are exposed to two basic processes in mathematical operations, which are addition and subtraction.

In the quiz section, he said, students were given three choices of questions to test the level of their mental arithmetic understanding, which focused on number base, addition and subtraction, while in the game, the children were given two types of challenges: Catch the Number and Puzzle.

“The use of this courseware will improve their mathematical skills and engage them through the combinations of multimedia elements during the learning process.

“In addition to that, the interactions between teachers and students, as well as between friends, is crucial to increase the level of understanding of the contents of this courseware,” he said.

Ruzinoor and his team members faced numerous challenges in developing the courseware, not least in terms of time and finance.

The project, which started in early January last year and was completed in June, received a grant of RM5,000 from UUM with the mandate it would benefit of the community.


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