Digital Feedback in Primary Maths

Evaluation Report

Published in: Education Endowment Foundation (September 2019). doi: 10.1186/ISRCTN50447665

Posted on RAND.org on October 01, 2019

by Alex Sutherland, Miriam Broeks, Megan Sim, Elena Rosa Brown, Eleftheria Iakovidou, Sonia Ilie, Hannes Jarke, Julie Belanger

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The Digital Feedback in Primary Maths programme 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 programme was developed and delivered by KYRA Teaching School Alliance. Instead of providing written comments, teachers used the app to record video of themselves providing verbal feedback on pupils' work or record themselves annotating photographs of pupils' work. Pupils were able to access and replay the feedback videos using tablets available in class. Teachers could address common misconceptions by making recorded feedback available to all pupils in the class.

The delivery team also provided teachers with diagnostic assessments to assess pupils' understanding of a topic. These assessments were very short, consisting of only three or four questions. It was suggested that teachers use both the digital feedback and diagnostic assessments two or three times a week. The delivery team supported teachers to adopt these approaches by providing initial training, setting up Professional Learning Communities (PLCs), and arranging coaching.

Participating teachers attended a one-day training session on the principles of effective feedback and on using the app. Teachers were assigned a PLC of 8 to 12 teachers from different schools who were expected to meet once a month to discuss the implementation of the intervention.

One teacher in each participating school was designated as a Research Lead, responsible for providing coaching to their colleagues using the programme. The project team provided Research Leads with a half-day training session on their coaching role. It was intended that Research Leads would also meet once per term to receive additional training.

The impact of Digital Feedback on maths was estimated using a randomised controlled trial involving 34 schools, 108 classes, and 2,564 pupils. Classes were randomised to either receive the intervention or to a control group which carried on with business-as-usual teaching. Maths attainment was measured using ACER's Essential Learning Metric and the level of disaffection with school was measured as a secondary outcome. A process evaluation used surveys, interviews, observations of training and PLC sessions, and analysis of feedback videos, coaching records and diagnostic assessments to examine how the programme was implemented. The delivery of the programme started in September 2017 and concluded in June 2018.

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