Independent Analysis of the Relationship Between Sparx Maths and Maths Outcomes

Key Findings and Technical Report

Published in: University of Cambridge website (January 2021)

Posted on RAND.org on February 16, 2021

by Elena Rosa Brown, Andreas Culora, Sonia Ilie

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The use of digital tools and practices in education—also known as Educational Technology (EdTech)—is undergoing a period of unprecedented growth in the UK, with schools increasingly looking to EdTech to support teaching and learning in the classroom. In 2019, the Department for Education in England signalled its commitment to such technologies through its EdTech Strategy seeking, for instance, to reduce teacher marking workload and increase accessibility for students with special educational needs and disabilities. In recent months, this growth has been intensified due to the unprecedented need to move to online modes of teaching, as a means of containing the spread of COVID-19. To many, EdTech is noted to be at the fore of this adaptation and plays a role in hastening the digitisation of education.

Evidence from over 40 years of research has shown the potential for EdTech to support learning, when implemented effectively. For instance, reviews by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) suggest that the use of technology in maths is usually more effective when simulations, scaffolding and/or intelligent tutoring systems are used. Such technology is also shown to be most effective where it supplements, rather than replaces, other forms of instruction.

Researchers from RAND Europe and the University of Cambridge were commissioned by Sparx, a socially focused learning technology company, to explore how usage of their flagship Sparx Maths learning platform is associated with student outcomes.

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