I have been a student or a teacher my entire life and hold a Ph.D. from Purdue University. I have taught primary, intermediate, junior high, high school, and university graduate school, and was a graduate school clinic director teaching graduate students how to diagnose and remediate educational problems.
In 1989 I was introduced to computers and educational software and started taking classes in computer programming. I quickly learned that I loved programming and decided to address the one area I felt was neglected: math word problems. After analyzing why other programs failed, I decided that any successful math word problem program needs these elements: problems must be explained in pictures, there must be no way for a student to “beat” the program, the program must respond intelligently to correct and incorrect answers, problems must be created with variables, and there needs to be a source of extrinsic motivation. The motivation was provided by a built in arcade game, but creating word problems with variables was challenging. Essentially I created problems with random numbers in which the pictures as well as all the steps changed each time the problem appeared. This meant that the student had to understand the solution rather than memorize the answer because the same problem with various numbers of pictures kept appearing.
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