GraphoGame Rime is a computer game designed to teach pupils to read by developing their phonological awareness and phonic skills. Pupils work on individual devices supervised in small groups by a teacher or teaching assistant. The game is designed to adjust the difficulty to challenge the learner at an appropriate level.
There is strong evidence that developing phonological skills is an effective way to improve reading outcomes. GraphoGame Rime builds on this evidence, and on specific research which suggests that teaching children to recognise ‘rime units’ in families of words (for example “c‑at”, “m‑at”, “s‑at”) develops a particular phonological skill which helps pupils learning to read. Previous, developer-led studies of GraphoGame Rime suggested that the game led to gains in reading skills, but these studies were small and had limitations. EEF and Wellcome Trust funded this project in order to rigorously test the impact of the game on Year 2 pupils.
This study provided no evidence that GraphoGame Rime was effective at improving reading outcomes over and above business-as-usual, and this is a highly secure result. Because the project focused on pupils who had been identified by the Year 1 phonics screening check as having low skills, comparison group pupils received other literacy support, including small-group and one-to-one activities, for similar amounts of time to that spent playing GraphoGame Rime by the pupils using it.
Teachers found the intervention easy to implement and considered it highly engaging.
EEF has no plans for a further trial of GraphoGame Rime, but will continue to consider other projects which use evidence-based approaches to raise literacy.
- The trial found no evidence that GraphoGame Rime improves pupils’ reading or spelling test scores when compared to business-as-usual. This result has very high security.
- The same is true when looking specifically at pupils who have ever been eligible for FSM. The security of this result is lower because the number of pupils is smaller.
- Teachers reported that they felt sufficiently well trained and found the intervention easy to set up and implement. Teachers, senior leaders and pupils considered GraphoGame Rime highly engaging, motivational and enjoyable. Findings suggest that all schools implemented the programme with a relatively good level of fidelity.
- Because the game was tested against business as usual, comparison group pupils received other literacy support, including small-group and one-to-one literacy activities, for similar amounts of time to that spent on GraphoGame Rime by pupils using it. This means the lack of observed impact shows that the intervention is no more or less effective than the support the comparison pupils received.