Can maths apps add value to learning?

Researchers: Dr Laura Outhwaite | Dr Jo Van Herwegen ...

Project overview


This project will involve a systematic review of the current evidence on maths apps targeting children aged four to seven years old, before developing a framework to evaluate the content and instructional quality of maths apps.

20% of five-year-old children in the UK do not achieve expected levels of attainment for mathematics. Developing strong early mathematical skills is vital for children’s later educational, economic, health and employment outcomes. Increasingly, educational maths apps on touch-screen tablets are being used in schools and at home to support children’s learning. Over 70% of children now have access to touch-screen tablet devices and 41% of teachers use maths apps as supplementary teaching tools in early primary school. This research will review and synthesise current studies on the use of educational maths apps in schools and at home. It will develop a framework based on developmental psychology and learning science theory to identify and evaluate content and design features of these maths apps and the top 50 most popular maths apps. The study will provide robust evidence for which maths apps work, and how they work, to raise children’s mathematical attainment.

The researchers will carry out a systematic literature review of research on the impact of maths apps as a formal learning experience for children aged 4-7 at school and at home. In addition, the researchers plan to carry out a meta-analysis focused on mathematical learning outcomes. This will provide an overview of current international research evidence on maths apps, creating an understanding of current research quality, current and new methodological considerations, and any gaps in research and in available maths apps.

The second stage of research will develop a framework to identify the coverage of each maths app in relation to ten basic skills important for mathematical development and will assign a quality score to each app based on design features identified in learning science theory literature. The framework will be applied to the maths apps identified in the systematic review and the top 50 most popular maths apps from the iOS Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

This study will produce valuable resources to support parents, teachers and policymakers to make evidence-based decisions about using educational maths apps to raise children’s attainment. The project website will describe app content and features that best support mathematical learning for children of different ages, as well as hosting an accessible database of evaluated maths apps for teachers and parents to compare and select appropriate apps to use with children.

Team


  • Dr Laura Outhwaite
    UCL Institute of Education
  • Dr Jo Van Herwegen
    UCL Institute of Education
  • Dr Christothea Herodotou
    Open University

  • Programme Head, Education
    Nuffield Foundation

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