Espoo, Finland – Independent developer Esa Helttula today is pleased to introduce Fraction Math 1.0, the 14th of his math instruction apps for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. It is one of the few math apps that provides problem-specific, step-by-step guidance, while supplying thousands of randomly generated problems. Designed for students in grades 3 – 6, the app features context sensitive tips presented by amusing characters, a single-tap keyboard, and extensive Settings to customize the content and difficulty of the fraction problems to be solved. Unlike typical math apps Fraction Math is not of the multiple-choice variety – the user must “show his work” and actively participate in the problem solving process.
Mastery of fractions – addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and decimal equivalents – is typically neither easy nor enjoyable for the average 10 year old. It requires rote learning, rule learning, and abstract reasoning. Fraction Math for the iPhone OS tries to disprove these unenlightened beliefs with an app that seeks to combine the best of machine learning and human instruction. The machine offers: an attention-grabbing interface; textual and graphical output; and an infinite supply of patience. The teacher provides: the ability to understand where the student is having difficulty; the ability to make appropriate suggestions; and the ability to take into account a student’s style of learning.
Fraction Math does exhibit excellent design, and a choice of a drawings-enhanced or text-only interface. All actions are animated, and an innovative number keyboard appears – when needed – to allow the user to select a numerical entry from among 15 choices with a single tap. But it is the app’s advanced teaching heuristics that make it stand out in a crowded field.
For example, the problem “1/3 + 1/4 =” is presented with the question “What would you like to do?” There are two answer buttons from which the student can choose: “Find the lowest common denominator” or “Add the numerators”. At any time he can ask for a Tip, which provides a written explanation of how to add two fractions with different denominators. If he taps the right answer, the app sets up the equation so he can choose the necessary fractions that will produce the LCD for each term. Once he has chosen the correct fractions, the app provides confirmation and reward: “You have found the lowest common denominator of 3 and 4 is 12. Press the OK button and you can add the numerators.” Every time the user chooses a wrong option, the app will tell why it was wrong. And in some cases there is no wrong option – just two different paths towards the correct answer.
* Learn and practice math skills using fractions
* App settings allow the user to control problem content and difficulty
* Step-by-step guidance with over 60 context sensitive tips presented by likeable characters
* Two choices at every step helps the student understand the problem solving process
* Can be used by students of all ages, especially grades 3 – 6
* Age-appropriate, animated GUI
* All problems are randomly generated
* Solving all problems is explained, term-by-term, step-by-step
* Simple one-tap keyboard makes entering numbers easy
* Problems can contain positive and negative fractions, mixed and whole numbers
* Results can be reduced
Here are the app’s two pedagogical innovations. First, every step of the teaching/learning process represents a node on a decision tree made up entirely of two-branch nodes (though sub-nodes may be many-branched). At every step the student makes one of two main choices. This is, logically, the most efficient method of providing positive and negative feedback in a problem solving process. The student will eventually learn how/why to make a correct choice at every step. There is frequently more than one path to the right answer, and the app gently guides him to the correct end point. Second, the decision trees are not constructed to illustrate particular problems. They are universal, and will illustrate any problem. In this way the student can practice adding, subtracting, dividing and multiplying fractions or mixed numbers with like and/or unlike denominators hundreds of times, and always rely on the same problem-specific aid.
“Learning itself is fun. And math itself is fun. Why can’t learning math be fun?” commented Esa Helttula. “My goal in creating Fraction Math has been to help restore the joy and play inherent in education.” “One of my customers recently commented on my Long Divison app by saying that it is one of the best apps he has ever seen. I have tried to make Fraction Math even better.”
* iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad
* iPhone OS 3.0 or later
* 2.7 MB
Pricing and Availability:
Fraction Math 1.0 is only $0.99 (USD) and available worldwide exclusively through the App Store in the Education category. Review copies are available upon request.
Esa Helttula is an independent developer located in Espoo, Finland. He specializes in apps for the iPhone OS that help teach math skills. He is formerly an algorithm visualization researcher at the university of Tampere in Finland. Unable to find a suitable app to help teach his daughter addition, he created his first iPhone app, Column Addition. Fraction Math marks his fourteenth iPhone app. Copyright (C) 2010 Esa Helttula. All Rights Reserved. Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone and iPod are registered trademarks of Apple Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.