British researchers are to conduct studies to test whether pupils’ texting, using the Internet or using iPad‘s can help improve their exam results.  The University of Bristol and Harvard University have been awarded a £3.5 million grant to investigate the effects of digital technology on the grades of disadvantaged students.

A total of 12 projects will take place, involving 260 pupils across 1,800 schools in England.  The aim of which is to discover new ways to engage with pupils and parents.  The first project is to be led jointly by academics at both universities.  They will test the benefits of using text messages to increase the involvement of parents in their child’s education.

Texting Could Improve Education

Raj Chande, from the University of Bristol, said the research was founded on a similar scheme in the United States.  That scheme, led to significant improvements in the children’s results.  “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,” said Mr Chande.  In this first project, 34 schools will use text messages to provide information about homework, behaviour and impending exams.

The second project, which is co-funded by Nike as part of the ‘Designed to Move‘ initiative, also led by Mr Chande, will investigate the benefits of short bursts of physical activity on academic outcomes in Mathematics and English.  “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,” said Mr Chande.

The third project is to be led by the director of Bristol’s Centre for Market and Public Organisation, Professor Simon Burgess, and will investigate teachers observing each others’ lessons.  The large-scale national project will assess the impact of “structured and frequent” observation of lessons by other teachers within 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.”

Head of Development Research at Nominet Trust, Dan Sutch, said “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.”

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and Nominet Trust have provided the £3.5 million grant to conduct the research.

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