Making Games Count

Portrait of Luz RobinsonLuz Robinson, a second-year doctoral student in the School Psychology program, has won a Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, a highly selective award that provides three years of support during pursuit of a doctorate.

The award from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine typically goes to only about 5% of applicants and is funded by the Ford Foundation.

The award will be used to support a project in which Robinson is creating a game intended to help elementary school students — especially Hispanic students — overcome mathematics anxiety and develop greater confidence in using mathematics. Robinson’s project includes a study of the effectiveness of the intervention, research that will contribute to her dissertation.

The game Robinson is developing — called “I AM (Apply Math) in my world” — will include content culturally relevant for Hispanic students and present real-world problems to be solved through math. The game — which will be developed in English and Spanish versions — is intended to give students practice with numbers and basic mathematical calculations and social-emotional learning practices aimed at reducing math anxiety.

“Latinx students are the fastest-growing student demographic, but they are significantly underrepresented in the STEM workforce and have among the highest rates of those who do not graduate from high school,” Robinson said. “Mathematics is a core subject for STEM involvement, but for low-income and marginalized students, mathematics education is also a form of social justice because it can provide them with critical problem-solving skills such as financial literacy to liberate themselves and their families from the shackles of poverty.”

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