View related sites
Well-designed educational apps present users with the possibility of learning and acquiring new knowledge (Hirsh-Pasek et al., 2015). If you follow us on Twitter, on our website or receive our newsletter, you may know that Cambridge Maths has launched a new app: CM Define It. The app is a survey tool investigating how the mathematics education community perceives already existing definitions of mathematical key terms. The team thought it was important to ascertain what makes for a good definition in mathematics as they have found inconsistencies and inaccuracies in the many different sources of mathematical definitions. Searching for the most appropriate and accurate one requires time, a sound understanding of what a key word means and what the common misconceptions around that key word are, in order to be able to eliminate definitions that promote misconceptions. Ultimately, the app aims to collect information from the mathematics education community to inform the glossary attached to the Cambridge Mathematics Framework (Majewska, 2019).
The team conducted a seven-week pilot study to test the app, assess its functionality and user experience, and then enhance it using participants’ feedback (Majewska, 2019). CM Define It was then launched on 18th October 2019. Each week users can rate up to five definitions of a mathematical word and provide more detailed feedback on the presented definitions.
The state of play
At the time of writing this blog, it has been 8 weeks since the launch. Figure 1 shows the proportion of all app users’ main job roles who have signed up to CM Define It since its launch.
Figure 1. The proportion of main user roles of CM Define It users since launch
In addition, we have looked at the number of responses since the launch. We were interested in comparisons with the average app use. Figure 2 shows attrition rates calculated across a sample of apps on IOS and Android platforms. It suggests a steep initial drop-off in app users, rapidly levelling off at around a 6% stable user base.
Figure 2. The average retention rate for Android and iOS apps
How does this compare with CM Define It attrition?
Figure 3 presents the weekly attrition of responses of the CM Define It app since the launch until the time of writing this blog, if we take the responses at launch to be 100%. The graph suggests the same pattern of a steep drop-off, followed by a relatively stable response rate. It is important to note that while the percentages cannot be directly compared due to differences in the underlying data, the trend appears to be similar.
Figure 3. The attrition of responses on CM Define It over time
If you have used apps, you can probably think of many different reasons for stopping their use. Whether boredom, the app not carrying out the function you thought it would or simply forgetting to use it – different people will have different reasons for dropping out. Therefore, although attrition is natural, Cambridge Maths would like to know why some users have stopped rating words and if there is anything we can do to change this.
What can be done?
We will survey our users and use the information to enhance the user experience and functionality of the app with the aim of maintaining or increasing the number of responses per week. In addition to making changes to the current interface, we also want to reward users who offer their responses. It is important to demonstrate the post-download value of the app to users (Tiongson, 2015).
In order to know how to re-engage our audience, we examined the research into motivation. Ryan and Deci (2000) as cited in Hirsh-Pasek et al. (2015) suggest that children’s engagement in learning and feedback is usually driven by extrinsic motivation and that app players like to receive rewards (p. 12-13). Hirsh-Pasek et al. (2015) also suggest that it is important to consider intrinsic motivation; some app users may be motivated by learning new information. So, we are looking at presenting those who provide ratings for definitions with small rewards each week. We propose that the new interface will reward users with something that can be both extrinsically and intrinsically motivating and we intend to do this by offering little-known, unique mathematical words and their definitions as a reward for rating presented definitions. Such rewards can be externally motivating for some, and internally motivating for others who are motivated by the process of gaining new knowledge.
Why should you get involved?
If you have joined the CM Define It app, but not rated any definitions yet, you should see what it is all about! If you joined the app, but were not engaged by its interface, stay tuned for some changes we’ll make shortly! Or If you are interested in quirky mathematical words and what they mean, you’ll be rewarded with one after your submission! As a member of the mathematics education community, if at any point you were unsure of the definitions you were using, found inconsistencies or thought that mathematical concepts could be explained differently, now is your chance! You have the opportunity to express your view of existing mathematical definitions, see how others view mathematical definitions and make a valuable contribution to a new glossary of mathematical key words.
Haslam, J. (2019, July 15). What makes a good retention rate [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.adjust.com/blog/what-makes-a-good-retention-rate/
Hirsh-Pasek, K., Zosh, J. M., Golinkoff, R. M., Gray J. H., Robb, M., & Kaufman, J. (2015). Putting education in “educational apps”: lessons from the science of learning. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 16(1), 3-34. doi: 10.1177/1529100615569721
Majewska, D. (2019). Glossary App: The development and pilot phase of CM Define It. Retrieved from Cambridge Mathematics website: https://www.cambridgemaths.org/Images/glossary-app-the-development-and-pilot-phase-of-cm-define-it.pdf
Tiongson, J. (2015, May). Mobile app marketing insights: How consumers really find and use your apps [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/mobile-app-marketing-insights/
Join the conversation: You can tweet us @CambridgeMaths or comment below.