Texting ‘could improve education’
Tuesday 5th November 2013, 5:51PM GMT.
Studies to test whether using iPads, texting and the Internet can help improve pupils’ exam results will be carried out by British researchers.
Teams from the University of Bristol and Harvard have been awarded a £3.5 million grant to investigate the effects of digital technology on the grades of less advantaged students.
In total, 12 projects will take place, involving 260 pupils in 1,800 school across England – with the aim of discovering new ways to engage with pupils and parents.
The first project, led jointly by academics at both universities, will test the benefits of using text messages to increase the involvement of parents in their child’s education.
Raj Chande, from the University of Bristol, said the research was based on a similar scheme in the United States, which led to a significant improvement in results.
“Parental engagement in a child’s learning is almost universally agreed to be a ‘good thing’. This large-scale project will develop and test a low-cost programme designed to increase parental engagement, ” Mr Chande said.
In the project, 34 schools will use texts to provide information about homework, behaviour and upcoming tests.
The second project, co-funded by Nike as part of the ‘Designed to Move’ initiative – also led by Mr Chande, will explore the benefit of short bursts of physical activity on academic outcomes in English and Maths.
Mr Chande added: “Most people know that regular exercise improves health outcomes, though recent research has also found that physical activity also improves cognitive performance. This feasibility study will test an approach that integrates physical activity into numeracy and literacy lessons on attainment and health levels.”
The third project, led by Professor Simon Burgess, director of Bristol’s Centre for Market and Public Organisation, will investigate teachers observing each others’ lessons.
The large-scale national project will evaluate the impact of “structured and frequent” observation of lessons by other teachers in the school.
The £3.5 million grant has been provided by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and Nominet Trust.
Dr Kevan Collins, chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, said: “To narrow the gap and avoid wasting resources, teachers need to have access to high-quality information. These exciting grants will help identify the most effective ways to use digital technology to improve learning for the most disadvantaged pupils in our schools.”
Dan Sutch, head of Development Research at Nominet Trust, commented: “The more we can understand where technology best supports learning and teaching the better. We’re really excited to be able to support these projects and to develop a deeper understanding of where well designed, and well used digital technologies can enhance learners’ attainment and experiences.”