This small scale study, conducted in 2012, was a pilot assessment of whether device-based practice improves children’s facility with the core mental maths that underpins their learning. The focus of the study was using learner response devices to practise basic maths facts in Year 4 and Year 5. Teachers used a suite of question sets focussing on addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, times tables, etc.
Questions were delivered to pupils on the screen of their electronic handset, and they submitted their answers via the same device. The system software instantly marked the answers, and automatically delivered the next question. For the teacher’s benefit, the questions were levelled against APP (Assessing Pupil Progress) criteria. Pupils had to get a certain number of questions correct at each level before they could progress through the question set.
The researchers randomly assigned participating teachers to use the innovation (experimental group) or to continue with their usual way of practising maths facts (comparison group) for the spring term (2012). Within each school, one Year 4 and one Year 5 class were in the experimental group, and the other classes in the comparison group. Teachers in the experimental group attended a workshop to train them in using the devices in early/mid-January 2012, and were asked to use the devices with their class for around three sessions of 5-10 minutes per week throughout the remainder of the term.
In early January 2012, and again in April, the pupils in both the experimental and comparison classes completed a short paper and pencil test of basic maths facts. Teachers were asked about their perceptions of the efficacy of the devices and pupils’ opinions about the experience was also be collected. The study has provided valuable information about the effectiveness of this innovation and about its potential for improving the acquisition of maths facts.
The project team was Pam Hanley, Sarah Hogben, and Simon Craft.