New research, undertaken by researchers from RAND Europe and the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge, has found that time spent using Sparx, the socially focused learning technology company, is associated with significantly better outcomes for students and improved GCSE grades.
The ground-breaking research analysed data collected by Sparx from 3,956 Year 7 and Year 8 students in 14 schools in the UK. Students included those who used the platform, those who had access but didn’t use the platform, and those that had no access at all. Students sat a written maths assessment using the well-respected PUMA (Progress in Understanding Mathematics Assessment) standardised test to record the level of maths understanding for the students.
The research found that time spent using Sparx is directly linked with better maths outcomes. Where Sparx is used for the recommended one hour of homework per week and students are actively working, they gain 30 percent of a predicted GCSE grade over the course of a school year. Even when students are simply spending time on the platform, watching instructional videos as well as solving set problems, they still gain almost 20 percent of a predicted GCSE grade.
Elena Rose Brown, Research Leader, RAND Europe, who led the research team said:
“Our research shows that when children use Sparx, particularly where they are actively working, they make significant gains in their learning. That’s interesting because there’s no guarantee that using EdTech in schools is going to increase children’s learning or improve their outcomes for the future. What’s great about Sparx is its commitment to objective, independent research into its products. This is unique as too few providers can objectively show their products make a difference to learning outcomes. We hope that this research provides a blueprint for other EdTech companies to follow.”
Tomasz Stefanski, Head of Strategy at Sparx welcomed the research and said:
“ From the start, Sparx has developed its products by analysing the data and studying what worked in the classroom and visibly improved maths learning outcomes. This independent study is an endorsement of what our own data suggested and I am delighted to share the research publicly. The pandemic has accelerated the use of EdTech across schools and I feel this report is a timely reminder to the EdTech community of the responsibility we all have to add measurable value to the schools we serve.”
The research also found that there was no difference in outcomes when accounting for students’ backgrounds in particular students eligible for free school meals on speakers of English as an additional language. This suggests that use of Sparx does not exacerbate any existing gaps for disadvantaged or lower pre-attainment students.
Download the research and the technical report here: https://www.educ.cam.ac.uk/research/programmes/sparx/