Bradford Institute for Health Research - Senior Research Fellow
There are many reasons children and teenagers might struggle with maths at school. On the one hand, they could struggle with cognitive aspects of control, for example, difficulties focusing, jumping to conclusions, and/or being disruptive in class. Increasingly, however, it is becoming clear that processes underlying sensorimotor control, for example, estimates of space and time, are co-opted for mathematical reasoning. Currently, no scalable assessment allows us to discriminate between the two and characterise why individuals are struggling with numbers.
We conducted an experiment with more than 700 school children and adolescents in which they were asked to hit as many moving targets as they could with a virtual bat. The findings suggested both inhibition and estimates of space and time independently contributed to mathematical attainment. Subsequently, we have begun testing an online, gamified version of the assessment which can be scaled up to assess children and teenagers in their millions.
There is a strong appetite among educationalists for tailoring elements of the curriculum to individuals’ needs. Assessments such as these may help us better characterise the specific barriers children and adolescents face when they are learning mathematics. Future work will consider whether different pedagogical approaches on the basis of these assessments successfully improve attainment.
Fundamental ResearchCore Science
Collect data and evidence
Fundamental ResearchDiscovery and Design
Implement in schools
TranslateTrials and Assessment
Co-design and test in ~ 10 schools
ImplementLarge Randomised Controlled Trial
Refine and test across ~ 100 schools
Test in contexts and delivery conditions ~ 500 schools
Develop national policy with Whitehall partners