The game of bingo is not often associated with children and you certainly won’t find any at your local bingo club. However, it has been used as a classroom aid and a recent study carried out in Nigerian primary school has found that bingo is effective in teaching children math.
Researchers Adedeji Tella and Felicia Motunrayo Fatoki conducted a study in Oyo State. The study involved 112 grade 3 students split into two groups. One group continued with their usual maths lessons, while the other dived into the world of bingo as a new way to learn the subject.
The study lasted four weeks and it was found to be a huge success. The bingo group had not only had a great deal of fun playing the game, but the children also showed improvement in their maths skills, significantly outperforming the other group.
The study by Tella and Fatoki was carefully planned to ensure its effectiveness. The researchers selected two public primary schools in Oyo State for their experiment, each representing a typical Nigerian educational establishment. The 112 students were chosen not just for their age but also for their diverse mathematical abilities.
Teachers utilized bingo for teaching math concepts, from basic arithmetic to more complex problem-solving. This approach was in contrast to the conventional rote learning methods typically used in these schools. Instead of memorising facts and figures, students were actively engaged in a dynamic learning process, making connections between the game and mathematical concepts.
This innovative approach to learning was designed to demonstrate how alternative teaching methods could transform the often-dreaded subject of mathematics into an engaging and effective learning experience.
In the lessons, each bingo card was designed with mathematical problems instead of plain numbers. For instance, a card might have a series of arithmetic problems like ‘5+3′ or ’12-4’. When a number was called out, students had to solve a corresponding problem on their card that equalled that number. For example, if ‘8’ was called, students needed to identify and mark ‘5+3’ on their card.
This method turned each game into a series of mental maths exercises. Students were not just passively listening to numbers but actively engaging with mathematical problems. They had to quickly calculate answers in their heads, which helped develop speed and accuracy in arithmetic. Furthermore, the teachers were able to modify the difficulty of the problems based on the class’ proficiency level. This adaptability made the game suitable for all students, catering to different skill levels within the class.
The success of the bingo method lay in its ability to capture the students’ interest. Unlike traditional classes, where students are passive recipients of information, incorporating bingo required active participation from the students. Each time a number was called, the students didn’t just need to mark their cards but also make use of the mathematical concepts that they were being taught.
Moreover, the competitive element of the game added an extra layer of motivation. All bingo players are familiar with the feeling of anticipating the text number, the thrill of being close to winning and the fun of shouting out “Bingo!” All of these were present in the classroom and encouraged the students to engage more deeply with the materials that they were being taught.
It is hoped that the study will have implications that reach beyond the schools that participated in it.
The researchers are hoping that it will inspire educators and policymakers to re-evaluate traditional teaching methods and look for ways of making learning in schools more engaging through interactive activities that resonate with students, such as playing bingo.
As adults, we don’t need an excuse to log in to our favourite online bingo sites or visit our local clubs; however, should we ever need one, then the study has provided the ideal justification for the game.
Next time you are talking to a friend about the wonderful world of bingo, don’t forget to tell them that it is also an excellent way of developing mathematical abilities!