A nationwide research project has been awarded to the University of Nottingham to find out if a specially designed maths app can improve learning and potentially transform the way maths is taught to 4-6 year olds.
The randomised controlled trial of the digital onebillion maths app is being funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and is expanding on initial research carried out by Dr Nicola Pitchford and PhD student, Laura Outhwaite who is also supervised by Educational Psychologist Anthea Gulliford from the School of Psychology at the University of Nottingham, which showed that children using the app for 12 weeks were 2-4 months ahead of their peers, and the app was particularly beneficial for children struggling with maths.
For this new year long research study 1,200 children aged 5-6, from 120 schools across England will use the specially designed app to work through engaging exercises at their own pace. Their knowledge is then assessed through a quiz at the end of each topic. Teaching assistants monitor progress to identify any areas that individual pupils might find particularly challenging.
The initial research was carried out in schools in Malawi and Nottingham where the team examined children using the onebillion maths app on tablets in the classroom. Using careful testing and observation methods before, during and after use it was found the children using the app improved their maths understanding much more quickly than with traditional classroom teaching alone.
Nicola Pitchford says: “The results from the initial research in Malawi showed that the app made a significant impact on the childrens learning in maths. It fuelled our interest in finding out whether this app could be similarly effective in other countries. We started working in Nottingham with Dunkirk Primary School and Burton Joyce Primary School. Using the same methodology found that the effect on children using the app was the same. We then expanded further to 11 more Nottingham schools and every time we saw the same thing – children using the onebillion maths app were significantly improving their performance in maths, and not only that they were becoming more confident, enthuisastic learners in the subject. This is because the app provides engaging, individualised content that the children work through at their own pace without the distractions and pressure of large group classroom teaching.”
Marc Faulder teaches at Burton Joyce Primary School in Nottingham in the Foundation Stage and is also an Apple Distinguished Educator. He has been supporting the implementation of the research by providing teacher training and support, he says: “At our school and those I have worked with in Nottingham we have seen children improve in confidence and ability in maths through using the onebillion app. It is obvious the children really enjoy using it and enjoy the instant feedback it gives them. At Burton Joyce we now use it regularly with all reception age children and with targeted KS1 groups and with those children who need extra support, where it can be particularly useful. As an educator it is very exciting to be involved in a project that could have such a big impact on the teaching of maths in the future.”
The research is also due to be implemented across the globe with partners in: South Africa, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Brazil.