Condition category
Not Applicable
Date applied
Date assigned
Last edited
Retrospectively registered
Overall trial status
Recruitment status
No longer recruiting

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims
One-to-one tutoring is a common form of support offered in schools for pupils underachieving in mathematics, but there is little evidence that it is effective. It is therefore vital that we evaluate its effectiveness. Studies have also found that working memory (short-term memory) is associated with maths achievement. For example, children who completed a computer-based working memory training programme (CogMed) showed increased maths achievement. Working memory training has also been found to have broader benefits including reduction of anxiety. This study will therefore explore the effectiveness of these two interventions on maths achievement in secondary school pupils. Specifically, it will investigate the impact of a working memory training programme and one-to-one tutoring on mathematics achievement, working memory, and maths anxiety in pupils who show difficulties in maths in the first year of their GCSE course (year nine).

Who can participate?
Pupils in year nine (age 13/14) underachieving in mathematics at the participating secondary school in Hampshire.

What does the study involve?
Participants are randomly allocated to one of two groups. One group receives one-to-one maths tutoring with a qualified teacher for one hour, twice a week, for five weeks. The other group use CogMed for 35 minutes a day for at least 20 days over five weeks. Participants complete maths, working memory and anxiety tests on three occasions.

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
This study may provide data about effective ways to support maths achievement, which may benefit pupils. There are no real risks, but pupils may feel negative after completing anxiety questionnaires.

Where is the study run from?
Southampton University (UK).

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
June 2012 to July 2013.

Who is funding the study?
Southampton University (UK).

Who is the main contact?
Emma Walker

Trial website

Contact information



Primary contact

Miss Emma Walker


Contact details

University of Southampton
Shackleton Building
Highfield Campus
SO17 1BJ
United Kingdom

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number number

Protocol/serial number


Study information

Scientific title

Understanding pathways to maths achievement in year nine pupils: an exploration of working memory and metacognitive skills - a randomised control study


Study hypothesis

It is hypothesised that the computerised working memory intervention will improve maths achievement via an increase in working memory capacity and a decrease in anxiety. It is also hypothesised that one to one tutoring will improve maths attainment, but this will be achieved through improved metacognition.

Ethics approval

1. University of Southampton Ethics Committee, 19/06/2012
2. Research Governance Office, 20/06/2012

Study design

Single-centre randomised controlled study

Primary study design


Secondary study design

Randomised controlled trial

Trial setting


Trial type


Patient information sheet

Not available in web format, please use the contact details below to request a patient information sheet


Pathways to mathematical achievement


One to one mathematics tutoring
Half of the participants will receive one to one maths tutoring at school with a qualified teacher, for one hour, twice a week, for five weeks. All maths tutoring content is based on a set of objectives devised by the school based on common 'gaps' in this group's knowledge. The tutor's role is to develop a pupil's understanding of how to use strategies for solving maths problems.

The other half of the participants will use CogMed, a computerised working memory training programme facilitated by the researcher. Participants will work for 35 minutes a day in school for at least 20 days over five weeks on computer based tasks designed to develop verbal and visuo-spatial short term and working memory, which adapt trial by trial to required difficulty level.

Intervention type



Not Applicable

Drug names

Primary outcome measures

Mathematics achievement (standardised score and national curriculum levels)

Pre- measures will be collected in July 2012, post measures in October/November 2012 and follow-up in January 2013.

Secondary outcome measures

1. Working memory (standard score)
2. Metacognition (questionnaire score)
3. Maths anxiety (questionnaire score)
4. Generalised anxiety score (questionnaire score)

Pre- measures will be collected in July 2012, post measures in October/November 2012 and follow-up in January 2013.

Overall trial start date


Overall trial end date


Reason abandoned


Participant inclusion criteria

Participants will be selected if their school has chosen them to receive one to one tutoring. Criteria for this are:
1. Achieved National Curriculum (NC) level 3a - 4c at the end of Key Stage 2 (KS2) (age 11 years) and failed to reach benchmark of NC level 5 by end of year 8 (age 13 years).
2. On roll at participating secondary school
3. In year nine (age 13/14 years)

Participant type


Age group




Target number of participants


Participant exclusion criteria

Persistent school absence (below 80% attendance)

Recruitment start date


Recruitment end date



Countries of recruitment

United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

University of Southampton
SO17 1BJ
United Kingdom

Sponsor information


University of Southampton (UK)

Sponsor details

Shackleton Building
Highfield Campus
SO17 1BJ
United Kingdom

Sponsor type




Funder type


Funder name

University of Southampton (UK)

Alternative name(s)

Funding Body Type

private sector organisation

Funding Body Subtype



United Kingdom

Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

Not provided at time of registration

Intention to publish date

Participant level data

Not provided at time of registration

Results - basic reporting

Publication summary

Publication citations

Additional files

Editorial Notes