Effective programmes for primary science

Which science programmes have been proven to help primary school pupils to succeed? To find out, the University of York’s Institute for Effective Education, Johns Hopkins University and Durham University completed a research review on the topic. The review summarises evidence on three types of programmes designed to improve the science achievement of primary school pupils: inquiry-orientated programmes without science kits, inquiry-orientated programmes with science kits, and technology programmes.

The review supported the use of inquiry-orientated programmes without science kits, such as science-reading integration approaches, but not those with kits. Limited research on technology approaches such as BrainPop also showed positive impacts. The evidence supports a view that improving outcomes in primary science depends on improving teachers’ skills in presenting lessons, engaging and motivating pupils, and integrating science and reading.

Source: Effective programmes for primary science: A best-evidence synthesis (2012), Best Evidence Encyclopedia

Educational technology and reading achievement

In the last issue of Best Evidence in Brief, we highlighted findings from a review of research into the effects of technology use on mathematics achievement completed by the Johns Hopkins School of Education’s Center for Research and Reform in Education (CRRE). Related to this topic is an updated CRRE review that focuses on the effects of technology use on reading achievement.

Consistent with the technology and maths review, findings on reading technology suggest that educational technology applications produce a positive, though small, effect on achievement in comparison to traditional methods. Showing the most promise were innovative technology applications and integrated literacy interventions with the support of extensive professional development.

Source: The effectiveness of education technology for enhancing maths achievement (2011), Best Evidence Encyclopedia

The effectiveness of education technology for enhancing maths achievement

Findings of this review of research into the effects of technology use on mathematics achievement suggest that educational technology applications produce a positive but small effect. This review was completed in 2011, but a new educator’s summary has been posted that presents the findings in a more accessible form.

The review, from the Johns Hopkins School of Education’s Center for Research and Reform in Education, examines three major categories of education technology:

  • comprehensive models, which use computer-assisted teaching alongside non-computer activities;
  • supplemental computer-assisted teaching programmes, which provide individualised computer-assisted instruction to supplement traditional classroom teaching; and
  • a computer-managed learning programme, Accelerated Math.

All three were found to produce a positive effect on mathematics achievement, with supplemental computer-assisted teaching programmes having the largest effect. The review concludes that educational technology is making some difference in mathematics learning, but new and better tools are needed to harness the power of technology to further enhance mathematics achievement for all students.

Source: The effectiveness of educational technology applications for enhancing mathematics achievement: A meta-analysis (2012), Best Evidence Encyclopedia

Educational television can support early literacy

This study from Early Childhood Research Quarterly tested whether a literacy curriculum supplement integrated with media can improve literacy outcomes for young children. The curriculum supplement incorporated video clips from programmes such as Sesame Street as well as online games, hands-on activities and professional development.

Findings showed that the supplement had positive impacts on children’s ability to recognise letters, sounds of letters and initial sounds of words, and children’s concepts of story and print.

Source: Supplementing literacy instruction with a media-rich intervention: Results of a randomized controlled trial (2012), Early Childhood Research Quarterly,27(1)

Self-paced learning looks promising

A new study by the Institute for Effective Education has shown that self-paced learning could produce significant gains in primary maths learning. In self-paced learning pupils answer, at their own pace, questions delivered directly to electronic handsets.

The technology instantly marks the responses and feeds back the results to both pupil and teacher. Teachers can use this formative assessment to help pupils and guide future teaching. Significant gains in pupils’ mathematical learning were made by those pupils using the self-paced learning technology.

Source: Self-paced learning: Effective technology-supported formative assessment report on achievement findings (2011), Institute for Effective Education