Condition category
Not Applicable
Date applied
02/08/2016
Date assigned
15/09/2016
Last edited
14/09/2016
Prospective/Retrospective
Retrospectively registered
Overall trial status
Ongoing
Recruitment status
No longer recruiting

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims
Being numerate means having the confidence and skill to use numbers and mathematical approaches in all aspects of life - at work, in practical everyday activities at home and beyond, as consumers, in managing our finances, as parents helping our children learn, as patients making sense of health information, as citizens understanding the world about us. Being numerate means being able to reason with numbers and other mathematical concepts and to apply these in a range of contexts and to solve a variety of problems. Studies have shown that working memory (being able to hold onto information long enough to use it) can affect learning numeracy skills. The aim of this study is to find out whether a program designed to improve working memory in children has an effect on their numeracy skills.

Who can participate?
Year 3 pupils of English state primary schools with low numeracy skills.

What does the study involve?
Schools are randomly allocated to one of three groups. Children attending schools in the first group take part in a Working Memory training program taught by teaching assistant. This involves working memory skills being taught in structured sessions with support from computer games. Schools are directed to allocate 8-10 hours of teaching assistant time to the program over the course of a term. Children attending schools in the second group take part in the same Working Memory program as the first group but also play games from the mathematical reasoning curriculum. Children attending schools in the third group continue as normal for the duration of the study. Numeracy of children in all schools is tested at the end of year 3 and compared to their scores from their normal tests at the end of key stage 1 (year 2). At the start of the study and then at the end of year 3, children have their working memory assessed using a range of tests and teachers are asked to rate their attention and behaviour in class.

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Children who take part in the working memory groups may benefit from improved maths academic attainment. There are no risks involved with participating in this study.

Where is the study run from?
The study is run from University of Oxford Department of Education and takes place in 115 schools from across England (UK)

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
January 2016 to December 2017

Who is funding the study?
Education Endowment Fund (UK)

Who is the main contact?
Ms Hazel Northcott
hazel.northcott@behaviouralinsights.co.uk

Trial website

Contact information

Type

Public

Primary contact

Ms Hazel Northcott

ORCID ID

Contact details

Behavioural Insights Team
2nd floor
4 Matthew Parker Street
London
SW1H 9NP
United Kingdom
+44 7530 728 898
hazel.northcott@behaviouralinsights.co.uk

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number

ClinicalTrials.gov number

Protocol/serial number

2015147

Study information

Scientific title

The impact of working memory training on attainment in the BAS3 number skills test in Year 3 English children

Acronym

Study hypothesis

The Working Memory (WM) intervention and the blended working memory and number skills (WM+) intervention will increase the numeracy scores of children who participate compared to children who receive no intervention.

Ethics approval

Not provided at time of registration

Study design

Three arm cluster randomised controlled trial

Primary study design

Interventional

Secondary study design

Cluster randomised trial

Trial setting

Schools

Trial type

Other

Patient information sheet

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

Condition

Numeracy

Intervention

Schools are randomly allocated to one of three groups using block randomisation with a random number generator. There will be six blocks, defined on the basis of school size (one-form entry, two or more form entry) and most recent school KS1 performance (lower third, middle third, upper third). Both interventions will be delivered between January and May 2017.

Working Memory Group: Strategies for improving Working Memory are taught by Teaching Assistants. The intervention combines two aspects of working memory training: strategies and practice. The strategies (rehearsal, association, using fingers) are taught in structured sessions, with support from computer games. The WM and WM+ interventions will be of the same length. Some variation in the expected length of delivery is likely in practice. Schools will be directed to allocate a total of 8-10 hours TA time (with a 50/50 split between TA time and games) over the course of a term.

Working Memory + Group: Participants are taught the same strategies as in the Working Memory Group, with the addition of games from the mathematical reasoning curriculum will also be tested in this trial. The rationale is that pupils who are behind in their maths may require additional help with working memory, but also with maths-specific content. The WM and WM+ interventions will be of the same length. Some variation in the expected length of delivery is likely in practice. Schools will be directed to allocate a total of 8-10 hours TA time (with a 50/50 split between TA time and games) over the course of a term.

Control group: Participants allocated to the control group receive no intervention and proceed through the school year as normal. Control group schools will be given a financial incentive that they can then spend on the training, if they wish, after the post-test.

Follow up for all study arms involves the the British Ability Scales (BAS) number skills test (third edition), this will be assessed at the end of year 3. The tests will be administered by research assistants recruited by BIT, blinded to allocation status.There is no pre-test but relevant scores from Key Stage 1 will be used to track progress. Outcome measure data collection will take place between May and June 2017. The evaluation will consider two secondary outcomes: The first is working memory, which will be assessed prior to randomisation before the intervention and also at the end of year 3 using the three central executive subtests (counting recall, backward digit recall, listening recall) of a working memory scale for children (Pickering & Gathercole, 2001, or Alloway, 2007, which is the computerised version). It will be administered by Oxford’s researchers, blinded to allocation status. RAs from BIT will audit a random sample of the assessments to ensure that they are completed as per the protocol and that assessors are blind to the allocation of the child. The second is attention and behaviour in class, as assessed by teachers at the end of year 3. When testers visit schools for data collection on the WM test, they will approach teachers, who will be asked to complete 15 items for the “Attention Rating Scale for Teachers” (adapted from the original by James M. Swanson; Swanson et al., 2001). This is a 4-point rating scale which contains items relevant to children's sustained attention in the classroom. There is no specific training required of raters, beyond the instructions. The Oxford team will be responsible for data entry. Data will be shared with the evaluation team, once available. Only those eligible for the intervention will be tested.

Intervention type

Phase

Drug names

Primary outcome measures

Number skills will be assessed at the end of year 3 using the BAS3 number skills test. There is no pre-test but instead KS1 scores will be used as a comparator.

Secondary outcome measures

1. Working memory will be assessed using the three central executive subtests (counting recall, backward digit recall, listening recall) of a working memory scale for children at baseline and at the end of year 3.
2. Attention and behaviour in class will be assessed by teachers using the Attention Rating Scale for Teachers at the end of year 3

Overall trial start date

01/01/2016

Overall trial end date

21/12/2017

Reason abandoned

Eligibility

Participant inclusion criteria

Schools:
1. English state primary schools
2. Have at least 20 pupils in Year 3

Children:
1. Year three pupils
2. Low numeracy skills
3. Parents have not opted their child out of participating

Participant type

Other

Age group

Child

Gender

Both

Target number of participants

1,700

Participant exclusion criteria

Not meeting inclusion criteria

Recruitment start date

01/09/2016

Recruitment end date

01/11/2016

Locations

Countries of recruitment

United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

University of Oxford Department of Education
15 Norham Gardens
Oxford
OX2 6PY

Sponsor information

Organisation

Education Endowment Fund

Sponsor details

Tothill Street
London
SW1P 4QP
United Kingdom
+44 207 802 1676
info@eefoundation.org.uk

Sponsor type

Charity

Website

Funders

Funder type

Charity

Funder name

Education Endowment Fund

Alternative name(s)

Funding Body Type

Funding Body Subtype

Location

Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

Planned publication by the Education Endowment Fund

Intention to publish date

01/12/2017

Participant level data

Not expected to be available

Results - basic reporting

Publication summary

Publication citations

Additional files

Editorial Notes