Is the pen mightier than the computer?

4 November 2016

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has published a report assessing the impact of Abracadabra (ABRA), a 20-week online literacy programme, on literacy outcomes for Year 1 pupils. ABRA is composed of phonic fluency and comprehension activities based around a series of age-appropriate texts and is designed to be delivered by a teaching assistant (TA) to groups of three to five pupils in four 15-minute sessions per week. The EEF evaluation tested the ABRA online intervention alongside a paper-based alternative using the same material.

Fifty-one schools were randomly assigned to either receive a version of the intervention or to act as a ‘control’ school delivering business as usual. In the schools receiving the intervention, pupils were randomised to receive the online intervention (ABRA), the paper-based intervention or standard literacy provision.

Positive effects were found for both the online and paper-based interventions. Pupils in the online treatment group showed an equivalent of two months’ additional progress in literacy, while for pupils in the paper-based treatment group, the improvement was equivalent to three months’. The impact was higher for children eligible for free school meals (FSM) for both ABRA and the paper-based intervention, with both groups making the equivalent of five months’ progress. Pupils with below average pre-test outcomes seemed to benefit from ABRA, whereas the paper-based intervention seemed to benefit all pupils. Pupils that received normal literacy provision in the schools where the interventions took place did better than students who received normal literacy provision in control schools.

Read the full report online here

Posted on 4 November 2016
Posted in: Evidence