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The successes of the predator-prey and disease games are indicative of the virtues of BAMIM in general. Game-playing in cooperative groups is an effective strategy for creating data sets for which students have ownership and understanding. Students apply mathematics and discover the difference between being told that an equation models something and actually modelling something of interest. Their sense of understanding and ownership motivates them to doggedly pose and address problems which they would almost certainly dodge if they were presented as homework. This is a welcome change from students quitting the moment a problem doesn't closely resemble textbook examples. In addition, the mathematics was applied in a broader context and students seem to remember it. These advantages accrue to any personally gathered data to which math is applied. Games, however, fit comfortably into mathematics classrooms, have dynamics (explicit rules) which are easy to understand and model, and encourage a group-work format.

The success of the games as pedagogical tools depends on the instructor's talent in posing probing, leading questions [6] and how well instructors establish a classroom climate that encourages experimentation and divergent thinking. The focus must be on cognitive processes rather than on the correctness of final outcomes. The process by which `wrong' answers are reached are valued as much as processes producing `right' answers. Given these prerequisites, students can discover and invent mathematics as opposed to being victimized by it.

James Powell
Tue Feb 18 12:21:04 MST 1997