Wuzzit Trouble: The Influence of a Digital Math Game on Student Number Sense

  • Holly Pope Stanford University
  • Charmaine Mangram Stanford University
Keywords: Mathematical proficiency, digital math games, number sense, Wuzzit Trouble


This study sought to determine if playing a digital math game could increase student number sense (mathematical proficiency in numeracy). We used a pre- and post-assessment to measure the number sense of two groups of third grade students with the same mathematics teacher. One group played the game Wuzzit Trouble and the other did not. Overall, the group who played Wuzzit Trouble showed a significant increase in number sense between the pre- and post-assessment, compared to the other group who did not. A qualitative analysis of a novel problem revealed differences between the treatment and comparison groups from pre- to post-. A discussion of these findings and features of the game are addressed. Namely, two features inherent in Wuzzit Trouble are associated with the learners’ increased number sense. First, Wuzzit Trouble promoted mathematical proficiency by requiring learners to attend to several mathematical constraints at once. Second, the game engaged learners in an iterative process of decision-making by calling for students to try, check, and revise their strategy as they played.

Author Biographies

Holly Pope, Stanford University

Holly Pope is a doctoral candidate at Stanford University in Curriculum Studies and Teacher Education, focusing on Mathematics Education.  She holds a B.S. in Elementary Education from Geneva College and a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Gannon University.  She has 17 years of teaching experience from prekindergarten through 6th grade, including 5 years as a math instructional coach in a K-8 urban charter school and has served as a Stanford Teacher Education Program (STEP) Supervisor for elementary pre-service teachers.  She currently co-teaches the Quantitative Reasoning and Mathematics Courses for STEP.  Her research interests include the development of mathematics proficiency from playing a digital mobile game, and how teachers incorporate gaming technology into math instruction. Other research interests include in-service teacher education, differentiation practices, and issues of equity in urban elementary mathematics.    

Charmaine Mangram, Stanford University

Charmaine Mangram s a doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Teacher Education program at Stanford’s Graduate School of Education. She studies mathematics teacher professional development for inservice secondary mathematics teachers and parental practices involving mathematics.  Her doctoral work explores how parents understand school mathematics curricular changes and how their understanding impacts their parental practices around homework. Charmaine works with Dr. Hilda Borko as a research assistant on the research project Toward a Scalable Model of Mathematics Professional Development: A Field Study of Preparing Facilitators to Implement the Problem-Solving Cycle (iPSC). 

Prior to enrolling in Stanford, she served as a Mathematics Instructional Coach for Los Angeles Unified School District with the goal of helping teachers incorporate conceptually focused mathematics lessons into their daily practice. Before becoming a coach, Charmaine taught high school mathematics in public schools in Los Angeles, CA and Mercedes, TX.  She left the classroom to pursue her passion to empower parents to be partners in their children’s mathematics education by founding the nonprofit Parents’ Academic Support Network with several college friends and teaching colleagues.


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How to Cite
Pope, H., & Mangram, C. (2015). Wuzzit Trouble: The Influence of a Digital Math Game on Student Number Sense. International Journal of Serious Games, 2(4). https://doi.org/10.17083/ijsg.v2i4.88
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