Researchers to test whether texting and technology can improve pupils’ exam results
Press release issued: 5 November 2013
Bristol researchers have been awarded grants for three projects as part of a £3.5 million funding round to test whether the use of technology in schools such as using iPads, texting parents and online preparation for lessons can help less advantaged pupils achieve better results.
The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and Nominet Trust £3.5 million grant will fund 12 projects to work with 260 pupils in 1,800 schools across England that will rigorously test ways of using digital technology to help understand the impact on learning and find new ways to engage with pupils and parents.
Bristol’s Centre for Market and Public Organisation has been successful in securing funding tor three of the 12 projects that will assess the use of text messages to increase parental involvement in their child’s education, the impact of physical activity on cognitive performance, and the impact of teachers observing each others’ lessons on their own effectiveness.
Professor Simon Burgess, Director of the University’s Centre for Market and Public Organisation, said: "We very much welcome the opportunity that this EEF funding brings to deliver three innovative randomised control trials (RCTs) in education. When added to the three RCTs we are already running, it shows that the Centre for Market and Public Organisation is building up a new area of strength and expertise on teacher observation.”
The first project, led jointly by academics at the Universities of Bristol and Harvard will test the benefit of using text messages to increase the involvement of parents in their child’s education. Based on a similar scheme in the United States, which led to a significant improvement in results, 34 schools will use texts to provide information about homework, behaviour and upcoming tests. The project is being run by Raj Chande and Professor Simon Burgess from Bristol with Professor Todd Rogers from Harvard.
Raj Chande said: “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.”
The second project, co-funded by Nike Inc. as part of the 'Designed to Move' initiative, and also led by Raj Chande, will explore the impact 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, will explore the impact of teachers observing each others’ lessons on their own effectiveness. Teacher effectiveness is crucial to pupils' attainment, and this large-scale national project will evaluate the impact of structured and frequent observation of lessons by other teachers in the school.
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.”
About the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF)
The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) is a major grant-making charity set up in 2011 by the Sutton Trust as lead foundation in partnership with Impetus Trust, with a Department for Education grant of £125m. It is dedicated to raising the attainment of disadvantaged pupils in English primary and secondary schools. Their vision is to break the link between family background and educational achievement, ensuring that pupils from all backgrounds have the opportunity to fulfil their aspirations and make the most of their talents. Since its launch the EEF has awarded £35.9 million to 68 projects working with over 440,000 pupils in over 2,200 schools across England. The full list of projects funded by EEF can be viewed at http://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/projects.
About the Nominet Trust
Nominet Trust (www.nominettrust.org.uk) is the UK’s leading Tech for Good funder. The Trust believes in harnessing the power of digital technology to improve lives and communities. A UK registered charity, Nominet Trust brings together, invests in and supports people committed to using digital technology to create social and economic value. Nominet Trust was founded in 2008 by Nominet, the not-for-profit organisation responsible for the smooth and secure running of the .uk internet infrastructure. Nominet has a strong public purpose and the Trust is one example of its commitment to creating a safer, accessible and diverse internet.
About the Centre for Market and Public Organisation
CMPO is a leading research centre, combining expertise in economics, geography and law. Our objective is to study the intersection between the public and private sectors of the economy, and in particular to understand the right way to organise and deliver public services. The Centre aims to develop research, contribute to the public debate and inform policy-making. The Centre was established in 1998 with two large grants from The Leverhulme Trust. In 2004 we were awarded ESRC Research Centre status, and CMPO started receiving its core funding from the ESRC. CMPO started its second five years as an ESRC Research Centre in October 2009.