Subashini Annamalai1, Jasni Ahmad2

1,2School of Multimedia Technology and

Communication, Universiti Utara Malaysia, Sintok, Kedah, Malaysia.

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

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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