How adaptive EdTech can close the attainment gap

Murray Morrison

Founder of Tassomai, an EdTech start up based in East London using innovative techniques from sports and music coaching to help people learn more effectively and get better grades.

Through intelligent learning software and multiple choice style “micro-quizzes”, Tassomai builds knowledge and confidence - reducing exam stress and avoiding the need for last minute cramming.

Website: https://edtechimpact.com/products/tassomai Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Recent reports by the Education Policy Institute thinktank and the Fair Education Alliance have highlighted that, despite efforts of schools and policy-makers, the attainment gap at KS4 is actually widening. For educators driven by a desire to help every student do the best they can, this discrepancy is a tragedy, especially considering that students with lower prior attainment tend to have the greatest opportunity to make gains. The circumstances seem to prevent this opportunity from being exploited.

I have long been a believer in the power of personalising (adaptive) retrieval practice as a means of underwriting students’ base knowledge and helping them to make huge improvements in their academic performance. This is why I built Tassomai for my students in the first place, and I have seen its impact first-hand. Finding the evidence to give other educators the confidence to use Tassomai and support its proper implementation in their settings, however, has been a major undertaking.

Assessing the impact of any strategy or intervention is a notoriously difficult task, particularly when one considers the external factors at play in any given setting that can dramatically affect the results. When decisions around purchasing or adequately resourcing implementation strategy comes into play, the requirement to show evidence becomes increasingly vital to school leaders.

It’s no less of a vexing question for providers like me: finding evidence of impact is crucial to decision-making processes around the development of products and content, and to be able to assure customers that their investment will prove to be time and money well-spent.

We’ve conducted many trials and experiments over the years to measure impact - and pride ourselves in being a leader in research-led, evidenced EdTech. Having completed an impact study with the IoE into the effect of our videos on knowledge retrieval and retention, Tassomai was awarded an EdWard from UCL. Our correlative analysis on 60,000+ exam results against usage in the product has been well-publicised, showing that over 90% of high users achieved a strong pass in their GCSE.

The challenge, however, was to investigate the effect of our adaptive, personalised spaced retrieval practice on students’ academic progress - we wanted to demonstrate that, whatever the prior attainment, using Tassomai would increase outcomes.

In short, the experiment was a pre and post test of student subject knowledge on what we term ‘mastery questions’. We looked at the data of around 1,500 students around the UK who used Tassomai between September 2018 and May 2019, separated the lower and higher ability based on how they fared on quizzes in their first month of use, and then looked at how their scores in mastery questions improved over time.

Our results showed that, in both groups, students improved in test scores and that this improvement increased with increased usage. Superimposing the graphs for each user type against their respective baselines of attainment, however, showed that the effect of the program was to close the attainment gap between them.

We continue to conduct research on mass cohort data and in collaboration with schools and universities. If you would like your school to participate in a study, please get in touch as we’d love to work with you.

Tassomai is an adaptive learning software that supports students in science, maths and English at KS3 and KS4. Using principles of behavioural and cognitive science, the program provides intelligent, personalised daily retrieval exercises for students that teach, test and reinforce knowledge. Teachers and SLT access data on student engagement and understanding through a live-marked interactive PLC to plan schemes of work and intervention.

To learn more about Tassomai's impact in schools, visit: https://edtechimpact.com/products/tassomai.

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