Computational Thinking Using the First In Math Online Program

Computational Thinking Using the First In Math Online Program

A new Lehigh University research study on the successful use of First In Math at Marvine Elementary has been peer reviewed and published in the Mathematics Teaching Research Journal, Spring 2020 Vol 12, no 1.


Marvine Elementary School, in the Bethlehem Area School District, is a Title 1 school with a 96% free/reduced lunch and 92% minority student population. In the 2018/2019 school year, Marvine achieved a 32.9 percentage-point increase in 4th grade students scoring Proficient & Advanced on the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA) mathematics test.

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Video: Marvine Educators and Students talk about First In Math (4:45)

Study Highlights:

  • The researcher in this study explored the effects on students’ mathematical development when they engage daily with the First in Math (FIM) online program. The results indicated that third, fourth, and fifth graders using the FIM online learning program in an encouraging environment, showed significant improvements in their mathematics achievement. Implications for computational thinking, which underlies the recommendations by National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) (2000) and the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) (2010), are that students develop this skill set as a powerful problem-solving tool and can extend it to the essential parts of everyday life.

  • Six classrooms participated in the study, which included two classrooms each of third, fourth, and fifth grades at Marvine Elementary School in the Bethlehem Area School District (BASD) located in northeast Pennsylvania. All the students in these grades engaged in the FIM online program.

  • Standardized test data were collected from school district and the Pennsylvania Department of Education test scores to report on the outcomes of the FIM program at Marvine Elementary. Also, data was collected from the [FIM] Goals Index, providing specific student progress, which is set inside the FIM online program for each school and each grade level within the school.

  • According to the BASD superintendents, the FIM online program provided a framework for mathematics curriculum goals and contributed to the district’s improvement of their mathematics achievement scores.

  • The researcher investigated the students’ thinking processes as they were engaged in the FIM online program...students enjoyed their active engagement with the FIM online program and looked forward to the next opportunity to “play” again. The students were motivated by earning stickers and other rewards within the FIM online program.

  • The teachers believe that FIM is an amazing online learning tool.

  • The data overwhelmingly reflect positive outcomes when the FIM online program is implemented during the regular scheduled block of time.

  • Research into the First in Math online program suggests the students’ use of this online program, along with a variety of approaches and supportive classroom environment, can lead to significant improvements in mathematics achievement. As a complement to traditional instruction, problem solving and practice that is fun, motivating, and challenging invites students to notice and explore relationships such as problem decomposition, data representation, and modeling which are the specific components of computational thinking.

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