##### Subashini improving the understanding of multiplication techniques among

1,2School of Multimedia Technology and
Communication, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Sintok, Kedah, Malaysia.

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Learning multiplication is often considered as difficult by
the primary school students. However, it can be made easy by using a motivating
and engaging technology-based instructional material such as a mobile
application. Taking that into consideration, this study attempts to investigate
the effects of a mathematical mobile application named as Do The Multiplication
(DoTheM) on improving the understanding of multiplication techniques among the Level
2 primary school students. DoTheM is designed and developed based on the Year 4
and Year 5 syllabus and contains five multiplication techniques, namely Japanese, Vedic Math,
Anyone, Multi II and Fast Maths. This study employed a single group experimental design with a sample of 30
Level 2 primary school students. The data analysis for this study involves
descriptive analysis and paired sample analysis. The findings of this study showed
that there are significant differences in their achievement and understanding
of the multiplication operations when the students experience the DoTheM app.
The results suggest that the DoTheM mobile application could improve the Level
2 primary students’ ability to solve multiplication operations using the five
techniques illustrated in the mobile application.

Keywords: DoTheM,
multiplication techniques, mobile application, primary, level 2.

1.
INTRODUCTION

Multiplication
facts are one of the basic skills in mathematics. The Mathematics syllabus of
Integrated Primary School Curriculum (KBSR) has placed a high emphasis on
fostering the understanding of concepts and skills multiplication facts1.
Although the focus of learning multiplication facts is one of the important aspects
of the curriculum, but there are still many students who have difficulties
mastering the operation well2-7.

Learning
multiplication facts is a key issue in mathematics in primary schools8.
Past research has shown that a lack skill of the multiplication facts is one of
the causes of low achievement in mathematics2, 5, 9-11. This is
because multiplication facts highly contribute to problem solving techniques
that is crucial in solving mathematical problems. It is difficult for the students
to solve any mathematical problems if they do not master the multiplication
facts12. This will cause them to lose interest in mathematics which
will eventually affect their mathematics performance.

One
reason that is said to be a factor that causes the students to have
difficulties mastering the multiplication facts is the inappropriate teaching
method13-14.  There is a call
for the teachers to adopt the technological based instructional materials to achieve
the intended learning outcomes.
Based on this call and extended
literature reviews, this study attempts to investigate the effectiveness of a
mobile

application, namely Do The
Multiplication (DoTheM) that illustrates multiplication techniques, in
improving multiplication skills of the level 2 primary school students.

2.
ISSUES IN LEARNING MULTIPLICATION

Mathematics
achievement is directly related to the abilities of the students to master
numbers of operations. One of the operations that the students need to master
is the multiplication facts. When the students are not able to master the
multiplication facts, they will face difficulties answer multiplication and
division questions. This will affect the interest of the students to learn
mathematics. Eventually this will lead to low achievement in mathematics. Thus,
the educators should focus on the multiplication facts teaching and learning
methods to improving students’ multiplication skills.

Currently, the teaching and learning of multiplication facts
at the primary school level, uses the traditional ‘chalk and talk’ methods15.
Researchers claim that memorization exercises are the common activity used to
teach and learn multiplication facts16-18. However, it only aims to
force the students to remember the facts without understanding the
multiplication concepts. When the students need to use the facts to solve
problems, they are unable to do it. This causes the students to feel quickly
tired and less motivated to learn multiplication facts because using too much
time to memorize the multiplication facts without understanding it5, 6,
10, 16, 19. Therefore, the teachers need to use appropriate teaching
methods to help the students to understand the multiplication techniques17,
20-23. The student should also practice using the multiplication facts.
This will encourage the active involvement of students in the learning
multiplication facts. When students do exercises related to the learning
content, the information storage rate will be higher compared to other methods
that have less participation of students such as lectures, reading
(memorization), audiovisual, demonstrations and group discussions23-24.

3.  DO THE MULTIPLICATION (DoTheM) MOBILE
APPLICATION

DoTHEM aims to enhance multiplication skills of Year 4, 5 and
6 primary students. DoTHEM is developed for the reason that the traditional
learning technique is slower and often inaccurate compared to the animated
learning techniques in DoTHEM. Not only that it has step-to-step animation
tutorials of the multiplication techniques, it also provides a redundant audio
explanation of the techniques. It illustrates five multiplication techniques,
namely Japanese, Vedic Math, Anyone, Multi II and Fast Maths. The content
covers the animated tutorial, activities and test. The test assessments also
give feedback to the students whether the answer is correct or incorrect. There
is also a summary of all the multiplication techniques. The summary will show
the students on which technique should they use for a certain type of question.

Figure 1 illustrates the interfaces of the DoTheM mobile
application.

Fig. 1 DoTheM interfaces.

DoThem was developed using Macromedia Flash
with ActionScript 3.0. The lesson content for DoTheM was developed based on the
Integrated Primary School Curriculum (KBSR) syllabus provided by the Ministry of Education. The
user interface of the DoTheM is designed using the appropriate color, font and
graphics that is suitable for primary students.

DoTheM provides a multi-genre tutorial space that engages
and draws the primary students into a different interaction with multiplication
facts. It also appeals to multiple learning modalities as it provides embedded
mixture of visual (text) and audio (sound, music or voice) that enables the
students to learn through their preferred modality. Students are able to learn
multiplication facts and techniques while creating and integrating ‘schema’ to
understand better and freely at their own will. They may repeat the content as
many times as they want for them to understand each step of the techniques
better. The combinations of multimedia elements in DoTheM offer the students a
welcome change from chalk-and-talk classroom and also arouse their interest in
learning. The redundancy

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