BASIC MATHEMATICS is a suite of eight programs covering a range of mathematical concepts. The first four programs are reviewed this month, and the remaining ones will appear in the next CRASH Course.
Angle Estimation gives the pupil practice in estimating acute, obtuse and reflex angles. At the start of the program, the teacher can choose the number of questions set, the type of angle which is to be drawn on the screen, the quadrant position of the first arm of the angle, and the margin of error permissible. A particularly useful feature of this package is that it can prepare a diagnostic report for the teacher afterwards.
Digit Addition is a drill-and-practice program in which the pupil has to add a single-digit number to another single-digit or two-digit number. The teacher can determine the level of the program, the layout of the problems (horizontal or vertical), and there is a scoring system where the pupil loses 'lives' after too many incorrect answers.
Unfortunately, apart from this little attempt has been made to motivate the pupil to do well. A livelier method of presentation, perhaps with a games format, would have made this program more appealing.
Dice Multiplication is an exercise in snakes-and-ladders format. It the pupil gives the correct response to the multiplication question, he moves forward - if incorrect, backwards - and the aim is to reach the home base.
Two dice appear on the screen, and the numbers shown are to be multiplied together.
The program is flexible: it can be used at varying levels of difficulty lit goes as far as vulgar fractions and decimals). And Dice Multiplication is quite useful for less able pupils who need a great deal of repetitive practice, though it would be nice to have a two-player option in the game.
Better graphics and the use of a range of colours would also have made the effect more imaginative.
Fraction Identification presents the pupil with a series of shaded rectangles and asks him to identity the fraction which has been shaded from a choice of three answers. If he wishes, the pupil can choose to see some examples first before attempting the questions. The correct answer is shown on the screen if the child enters two wrong responses to a question, but no explanation is given.
Once all the questions have been answered, the computer will give details of the user's performance and can also display the scores table. The teacher can't set up the exact fractions to be practised, but he can choose the number of questions (from five to 20) or wipe out the scores table.
Though they're reasonably useful examples of drill-and-practice software, these programs suffer from dullness and lack of imagination. The only colours are blue and white, and it seems little thought has been given to making the screen displays attractive and appealing. The subject matter could quite easily have been made more appealing to children.
Basic Mathematics: the maths is there, but the screen's too basic.