Evidence for effectiveness of apps

Evidence for effectiveness of synthetic phonics approach

PocketPhonics and its big brother, PocketPhonics Stories, both follow the synthetic phonics teaching method. The evidence for this method is well established. The best-known piece of research for it is the longitudinal study of the effectiveness of synthetic phonics in Scotland: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/Doc/36496/0023582.pdf

A+ rating of PocketPhonics Stories by Balefire Labs

Balefire Labs ratings measure how well an app is likely to teach based on whether an app consistently follows ways of teaching that research has shown work. It’s essentially an assessment of well an app follows established teaching principles. PocketPhonics Stories met these principles so well, it merited the top A+ rating. One of only two literacy apps out of thousands to get this accolade. Here’s how the app met these key principles:
 Adapting difficulty
  • every quiz, gets progressively harder
Mastery-based progression
  • child masters a group of letter sounds then tackles a set of books that use them
  • children can only move on from one set of books, when they have mastered all the quizzes for that set of books
Clearly stated learning objectives
  • learn to recognise letter sounds
  • write letters
  • blend letter sounds into words (key step in reading)
  • segment words into letter sounds (key step in spelling)
Frequent, meaningful interaction
  • at every point, the app supports and checks the child’s understanding
Performance reports
  • online for both schools and parents – detail what the child has learned

Chicago class study of PocketPhonics Stories

In 2016, we conducted a study with a class of EAL (English as additional language) kindergarten students in a Chicago school.
  • Study looked to see what learning might be attributable to the app as opposed to normal teaching
  • Tested students ability to identify 40 simple words before and after using the app
  • Each word was spoken, then the student had to choose it from a list of four similar words e.g “which word is ‘cat’?” and the options on the sheet were “can, cat, bat, mat”
  • Seven EAL Kindergarten students with very limited English completed the study
  • Before using the app, not one of the students scored better than if they were just guessing, because they had very limited English
After completing the third level in the app, on average, they scored 52% better than guessing for words taught by the app  and only 30% better than guessing for words not taught by the app. Thus they had improved nearly twice as much at the words taught by the app. On average, students were using the app for 5 mins per day. The study started in Oct ’14 and finished in May ’15. The teacher was introducing letter sounds in a different order in class.

PocketPhonics small-scale study in UK in 2012

Independent research found children learnt nine times as fast using PocketPhonics as compared to a classroom lesson. Kecher 2012

Third-party research into the effectiveness of apps teaching handwriting

This research published in 2016 found that, “There was a benefit of practicing writing with one’s finger on a tablet computer.” Interestingly,it was more effective to use your finger than a stylus on the tablet. This was attributed to the greater tactile feedback from using your finger. Patchan & Puranik 2016