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17 October 2007

ICT boosts school attainment

Huge study by Institute of Education

SCHOOLCHILDREN can shoot ahead in their learning if their teachers use whiteboard technology effectively, according to research from Manchester Metropolitan University.

A team led by Professor Bridget Somekh at MMU’s Institute of Education looked at the usefulness of whiteboards over a two-year period in more than 330 classrooms across the UK.

Among children aged 7-11 (Key Stage 2), they found:

- in maths, average and high attaining boys and girls who had been taught extensively with the interactive whiteboard made the equivalent of an extra 2.5 to 5 months’ progress over the course of two years.

- in science, all pupils except high attaining girls made greater progress with more exposure to the interactive whiteboard with low attaining boys making as much as 7.5 months’ additional progress.

- in English, boys with low prior attainment made 2.5 months of additional progress.

Infants also ahead

There were also benefits among younger pupils (Key Stage 1): in maths, high attaining girls made gains of 4.75 months, enabling them to catch up with high attaining boys. In science and English Key Stage 1 there was also improved progress, largely for average and high attaining pupils.

The report also notes very positive effects on the attention, attitude and motivation of all pupils.

Professor Somekh said: "Interactive whiteboards can help with the teaching of difficult, abstract and complex ideas – visual tools help pupils concentrate for longer and understand more fully and more easily what they are being taught.

"The technology gives well-prepared teachers a tool to enhance interaction with learners, increasing discussion of ideas and concepts between teachers and pupils."

More enjoyable

Welcoming the research Stephen Crowne, Chief Executive of Becta, the government agency for learning and technology, said: "This study clearly shows the benefits that can be gained from effective use of an interactive whiteboard. We know that technology has the capability of bringing lessons to life and making that much more enjoyable for the learner.

"Not only do the lessons become more fun, the study shows the very real benefits in terms of learner attainment and engaging pupils in lessons."

The research was carried out between September 2004 and December 2006 and involved the collection and analysis of a large body of quantitative and qualitative data, including surveys of teachers and headteachers, visits to schools and local authorities, and teachers' log of interactive whiteboard use.

The impact findings are based on an analysis of two substantial datasets:
4,116 pupils in Key Stage 2, in 172 classes, in 97 primary schools, in 20 local authorities in England. 3,156 pupils in Key Stage 1, in 160 classes, in 96 primary schools, in 20 local authorities in England.

The analysis took into account pupils' gender, term of birth, eligibility for free school meals and Special Educational Needs status. It measured the effects of exposure to teaching with the interactive whiteboard for longer than previous studies, giving an unprecedented picture of the impact of the technology over time.

For more about research at the Institute of Education, go to