schoolzone v1

Schoolzone research evaluation

Schoolzone, the leading educational evaluator in the UK, carried out an independent evaluation of Mangahigh. The report gave great feedback and can be read in full at schoolzonereview

overview

Mangahigh literature states that it has been designed to engage students in Mathematics in an exciting and powerful way. The games have been created so that they are fun to play but that help the students to develop their mathematical skills. The games are specifically linked to the curriculum so that the students are practising the mathematics that they need to know. The Prodigi part of the program takes students at their own pace through the curriculum. The analytics have been created to allow the teacher to see instantly how the class is doing, highlighting which students need help and with what. It also allows the teacher to pick out the higher achieving students allowing them to be pushed on to more challenging parts of the site. The site consists of games, Prodigi lessons, teacher set challenges and an analytics section which allows insight into the students progress. In this evaluation the students were studying for their first GCSE module, which included work on Probability & Statistics.

classroom use

Context
Eleven Year 9 students used Mangahigh over a period of two weeks (seven lessons). The students were working at a NC Level 6/7 and each had their own laptop to work from. The class was set 5/5 and some of the pupils had confidence issues with their understanding and use of mathematics. The class initially looked at the lesson “Data – Find the quartiles and IQR”, (GCSE Grade B. Y10), because this fitted in with the series of lessons they had already been studying. To introduce Mangahigh in a fun way I set this up as a challenge. I looked at this prior to setting it and liked the type of questions that were asked, such as “What was the IQR used for?” rather than just “work it out”. Over the two weeks we looked at several more challenges including substituting whole numbers into algebra, using triple ratios, drawing straight line graphs using y=mx+c and multiplying a bracket by a number. The students attempted most of the games and the two lessons involving “Saving our Dumb Planet”.
Special Needs
Having a smaller class attempt the challenges had an initial mixed response. The leader board was great for motivation and creating a really positive atmosphere for many of the students but for the student at the bottom of the board it not always inspired them to do better, rather it became a bit of a hurdle (Publisher’s note: Leader boards only show the top 10 results, therefore in the case of the trial with a class of 9 students the bottom student is shown). With bigger classes and parallel groups this might be less of an issue. The ability to filter for age group and ability was excellent and allowed for differentiation when some pupils found they had achieved their set challenge level. It was also very clear when distinguishing between the GCSE grades as this allowed the pupils to understand clearly what level they were working at, in line with the APP initiative.

content and design

Design and navigation
Setting up the class, importing lists etc was very straightforward. It was initially unclear what the pupil “sign in” was so this caused a little problem (A new, streamlined student login process has just been launched). After the first few lessons pupils signed in with no problems. The main screen layout is very clear and the tabs at the side clearly indicate where to navigate. The design and detail of the games were very good although there was some difficulties such as when matching equations and their lines, pupils found difficulty in plotting points onto the graph as they didn’t always fall were they were placed (Publisher’s note: Improvements to ‘Save Our Dumb Planet’ mean that plotting is now more straight forward) and dragging equations from one side to its graph was not always possible because you have to be really precise where to place the label. They also found it hard to understand which equation was linked to which robot and they were sometimes frustrated when they were trying to “reload” and found themselves timing out. (Publisher’s note: Improvements to ‘Bidmas Blaster’ mean that reloading is now more straight forward)
Curriculum coverage
Mangahigh has an excellent coverage of the NC and it is easy to filter the level of work you are looking for. It was easy to filter by age or by GCSE grade, which was really beneficial when ensuring the correct level of work was being covered. The areas that we looked at were all geared to meet the national curriculum and with the easily navigable filtering system we were able to revise topics not looked at for a while. The class initially looked at the lesson “Data – Find the quartiles and IQR” (GCSE Grade B. Y10) because this fitted in with the series of lessons they had already been studying.
Planning
Initially I spent a small chunk of time (~20 mins?) setting up the csv list of pupils names ready to import them, but this was straightforward. It was important that I looked at the games content and lesson (Saving Our Dumb Planet) prior to the lesson to gauge its worth, the appropriate level to set the games/challenges at and also to ensure that it matched their classwork. The pupils were very excited when we talked about using the site and they were very quick to log in and navigate their way around the site. When challenges were set after logging on, they did find it a little confusing where to find them. The amount of time spent was no more than planning a “normal” lesson and in fact because I knew the pupils were looking forward to using the site it actually made the planning a bit more fun. I did use whole class teaching as well during the Prodigi lesson just to reinforce some of the points in a way I know my students would understand clearly.
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