Helping pupils to understand the logical principles underlying maths can boost their results by one additional month, according to the findings of a randomised controlled trial published by the Education Endowment Foundation today.
160 English primary schools took part in the trial of Mathematical Reasoning, which involved almost 7,500 pupils in Year 2. Teachers delivered the programme over 12 – 15 weeks as part of their usual maths lessons. Learning was supported by online games, which could be used by pupils at school and at home.
The programme was developed by Professor Terezinha Nunes and Professor Peter Bryant at the Department of Education, University of Oxford. In this trial, the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM) led the delivery of the programme through the network of Maths Hubs, including recruiting schools and training teachers.
The independent evaluation by a team from the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) found that pupils who took part in the programme made the equivalent of one additional month’s progress in maths, compared to other pupils. They also found some evidence that the programme had a positive impact on mathematical reasoning
The EEF previously funded a smaller trial of Mathematical Reasoning which also suggested a positive impact on attainment, equivalent to an additional three months’ progress. This new trial, adapted to enable the programme to be delivered at scale, was designed to test its impact under everyday conditions and in a large number of schools.
The EEF has also published the findings from an evaluation of another programme designed to improve maths results.
110 schools and almost 6,000 pupils took part in a trial of ScratchMaths a two-year computing and mathematics curriculum designed for pupils aged nine to eleven years old, supported by teacher professional development. The programme used Scratch, a free online programming environment, to integrate coding activities into maths lessons
While the independent evaluators from a team at Sheffield Hallam University found no evidence that the programme boosted pupils’ maths results, they did find that their computational thinking scores increased, compared to other pupils. The additional progress was higher for disadvantaged pupils. The findings suggest ScratchMaths could be a cost-effective way for schools to teach aspects of the primary computing curriculum.
The EEF has published two other new reports today:
Thinking, Doing, Talking Science
A trial of Thinking, Doing, Talking Science, a professional development programme designed to improve Year 5 science outcomes by making science lessons more effective. This trial involved 205 schools and involved almost 9,000 pupils. The EEF commissioned this evaluation after findings from an earlier, smaller trial suggested positive impact science attainment equivalent to an additional three months’ progress. In this larger trial – adapted to enable it to be delivered at scale – the independent researchers from the American Institutes for Research found no evidence of an impact on pupils’ science attainment, on average. However, among children eligible for free school meals, those in the schools implementing Thinking, Doing, Talking Science made a small amount of additional progress in science. The trial also found evidence that all pupils’ interest in, and self-efficacy towards, science increased, on average. The EEF is now exploring options for a scalable model of the programme that maintains the impact seen in the first trial.
A trial of the FRIENDS programme, which aims to improve English and Maths attainment by increasing resilience and emotional self-management. This trial involved 79 primary schools and almost 1,500 Year 5 pupils. FRIENDS sessions lasted 60 – 90 minutes, and were delivered during the school day. The independent evaluation, led by a team from Manchester University, found no evidence that FRIENDS improved Maths and Reading outcomes or reduced anxiety. Pupils eligible for Free School Meals experienced a small increase in self-rated anxiety and depression, although these results may have lower security than the overall findings because of the smaller number of pupils. The EEF has no plans for a further trial of FRIENDS, but will continue to support projects which aim to raise attainment by improving skills such as emotional self-management.