Digital Feedback in Primary Maths aimed to improve the feedback provided by primary school teachers using a tablet application called Explain Everything, diagnostic assessments and training on effective feedback. In this trial, it was expected to increase the maths attainment of pupils in Years 4 and 5.
The EEF Toolkit reports that feedback is a high-impact teaching approach. However, there is little evidence for the extensive written marking that often forms the backbone of schools’ formal feedback to pupils. The EEF funded this trial to test a way teachers can provide pupils with more frequent verbal feedback. A small short-term trial of the approach had previously found some evidence of promise.
Our trial involved 34 schools, 108 classes, and 2,564 pupils. The independent evaluation found no evidence that the programme had a positive impact on the measure of attainment chosen for the trial, the maths attainment of pupils in Years 4 and 5.
This result is rated as moderate-to-low security: 2 out of 5 on the EEF padlock scale. This is mainly because of the large numbers of pupils who were not included in the testing.
The EEF has no plans for a further trial of this programme, but will continue to consider other projects which aim to provide effective feedback using digital technology. The EEF will publish a guidance report on effective feedback in 2020; our guidance report on using digital technology effectively is available here.
- There is no evidence that Digital Feedback in Primary Maths had an impact on pupils’ maths outcomes. This result has a moderate to low security rating.
- There is no evidence that the programme has an impact on the maths outcomes of pupils eligible for free school meals.
- The programme, as designed, was not easily implemented by teachers and schools. There was evidence that teachers and Research Leads sometimes did not attend training, have coaching sessions, or provide regular digitalfeedback in the classroom.
- Both the diagnostic assessment and training in effective feedback were reported as more useful by teachers than the use of the app to provide digital feedback. Evidence from surveys, PLC observations, and an interview indicated that the diagnostic assessments were eventually being used as a global classroom assessment tool.
- There were significant challenges with identifying which pupils were in the treatment group and which were in the control. This meant that 431 pupils could not be included in the main analysis. This presented a small threat to the security of the trial.