onebillion© is a tablet-based mathematics intervention for primary school children in Malawi, in order to enhance their early mathematics skills. The intervention was found to have significant positive impacts on students’ knowledge of the mathematics curriculum, their understanding of its related mathematical concepts, and their ability to generalize their knowledge to a paper-and-pencil test.
DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM
Target Population: Primary school children in Malawi
The onebillion© math tablet intervention is an eight-week-long program in which students use Apple© iPad Minis to work at their own pace through exercises based on the National Primary Curriculum for mathematics, used throughout Malawi. Every other day, children in Standard 1 spend 30 minutes, and children in Standards 2 and 3 spend 1 hour in a special “Learning Centre” building on the school grounds. Groups of about 25 students work individually, and are accompanied by a teacher who helps them to use the technology and monitors their progress with achievement charts. The four apps developed by onebillion© for this program use Chichewa, the official language of Malawi.
EVALUATION OF PROGRAM
Pitchford, N. (2015). Development of early mathematical skills with a tablet intervention: A randomized control trial in Malawi. Frontiers in Psychology, 6:485 (1-12).
Evaluated population: A total of 318 children at an urban primary school in Lilongwe, Malawi, were included in the study. In the final sample of 283 children who were present at both pretest and posttest, Standard 1 children had an average age of 7 years, and were 35 percent female: Standard 2 children had an average age of 8 years, and were 49 percent female; and Standard 3 children had an average age of 9 years, and were 54 percent female.
Approach: The students were randomly selected within each classroom into one of three groups: 1) the math tablet intervention group; 2) a non-math tablet “placebo” group; and 3) a normal-practice control group. The placebo group used tablets with four different apps that were educational and non-verbal but not mathematical. The standard-practice control group did not use any tablets, and were given face-to-face instruction in large classrooms. Of the 318 who were randomly selected into the three groups, 113 received the math tablet intervention, 112 received the normal-practice control condition, and 85 received the non-math tablet placebo intervention. Students in Standard 1 were not assigned to the placebo condition.
Students were assessed for their mathematics ability, and basic skills associated with scholastic progression. At baseline, a pretest was administered via the tablet, measuring students’ knowledge on items in the mathematics curriculum being studied, as well as their understanding of mathematics concepts, such as counting and simple and complex addition. At the end of the intervention, the students were given a posttest that included the same assessments, as well as one measuring their ability to generalize their knowledge to a pencil-and-paper test.
Results: Among Standard 2 children, the math tablet intervention group scored significantly higher than the normal-practice control group in mathematical concepts (ES = 0.6) and curriculum knowledge (ES = 1.1). The Standard 2 intervention group also scored significantly higher than the non-math tablet placebo group in curriculum knowledge and curriculum knowledge generalization. Among Standard 3 children, the intervention group scored significantly higher than the control group in curriculum knowledge (ES = 1.7) and curriculum knowledge generalization (ES = 0.8). The Standard 3 intervention group also scored significantly higher than the placebo group in curriculum knowledge and curriculum knowledge generalization.
No significant differences were found between the two groups in Standard 1. Among Standard 2 children, the math tablet intervention group did not score significantly higher in mathematical concepts than the placebo group, or higher in curriculum knowledge generalization than the control group. The Standard 3 intervention group also did not score significantly higher in mathematical concepts than either the placebo group or the control group.
SOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION
Pitchford, N. (2015). Development of early mathematical skills with a tablet intervention: A randomized control trial in Malawi. Frontiers in Psychology, 6:485.
KEYWORDS: Children (3-11), Elementary, Males and Females (Co-ed), Urban, School-based, Computer-based, Mathematics
Program information last updated on 11/09/2015.