Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Impacts of an iPad App on Mathematics Achievement for First Grade Students

This study authors examined whether including topical math passages in an interactive iPad app ("Bedtime Learning Together") improved math and reading test scores for first grade students. The app aims to increase the number of opportunities that parents and students have to discuss math topics (or opportunities for "math talk"). In fall 2013, the study authors assigned 40 classrooms in 22 Chicago-area schools to either an intervention group or a comparison group, and students in all classrooms received iPads. In the intervention group, the iPads that were distributed had an app that provided topical math passages. In the comparison group, the iPads had an app that also provided similar reading passages but did not contain math concepts. The study authors hypothesized that students who have parents with high levels of anxiety about math would have the lowest amount of math talk at home prior to the intervention, so these students might experience the greatest impacts from the intervention. The study authors assessed students' math and reading skills in fall 2013 and spring 2014, and surveyed parents in fall 2013 to assess their levels of math anxiety. The study authors measured the impacts of the topical math passages overall, as well as by level of parent anxiety. The authors presented findings from eight models, all of which were reviewed by the WWC.

What did the study report?

The study authors reported that students in the intervention group had higher math scores than students in the comparison group, but only for students of parents with high math anxiety. There were no differences in math test scores among students whose parents had low math anxiety, and no differences in reading achievement for parents with different levels of math anxiety.

How does the WWC rate this study?

The study is a randomized controlled trial, but some of the study's analyses do not contain sufficient information to determine whether they meet WWC group design standards. Additional information on attrition, equivalence of the intervention and control groups at baseline, and the models used to estimate impacts will be requested from the study authors. A forthcoming review will report more fully on the study's results and WWC rating.


Berkowitz, T., Schaeffer, M. W., Maloney, E. A., Peterson, L., Gregor, C., Levine, S. C., & Beilock, S. L. (2015). Math at home adds up to achievement in school. Science, 350(6257), 196–198. doi: 10.1126/science.aac7427

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