Maths cognition researchers report on findings after “Feed the Monster” classroom intervention

2 children looking at maths game

The report of a project to see whether a specially designed board game could improve the numerical skills of primary school children has now been published.

The research, conducted by colleagues from Loughborough University’s Centre for Mathematical Cognition, involved the development of the game – a monster-themed concept in which children were required to place number cards in order, forward and backwards, to construct a number line – and the evaluation of its usefulness in improving early numerical skills.

Dr Ella James-Brabham, Dr Francesco Sella (Loughborough University) and Professor Tim Jay (University of Nottingham) began working on the project in 2021, backed by funding from Nuffield Foundation, an independent charitable trust with a mission to advance social wellbeing.

Low achievement in mathematics has long been associated with unemployment, lower earnings, poor financial planning, quality of life, and even health, while early mathematical skills are the strongest predictor of educational achievement. This is why interventions to improve these skills are seen as so important.

The researchers enlisted the support of educational practitioners to help design the game and the final product (titled “Feed the Monster”) was evaluated in primary schools across Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire, with a focus on schools with a high percentage of low socio-economic status (SES) students. In total, a sample of 249 children was used for statistical analysis in the intervention which took place between May and June 2022.

To find out more about the project carried out by Loughborough University researchers and funded by Nuffield Foundation, you can download the evaluation report: Board Game to Improve Early Numerical Skills Report

Further information

For more information about this project, please contact