Beyond attainment: what else we look at when measuring impact in primary Maths

By Jeremy Moses 

We love hearing feedback from the teachers and pupils using Third Space Learning. It’s always encouraging to hear when things have gone well and when they haven’t, we’re always keen to improve.

Teachers report many varied benefits from our online one-to-one tuition but common themes emerge. For example they often tell us that they’ve seen significant improvements in their pupils’ confidence in maths or their enjoyment of the subject. 

We believe this change in attitude is a crucial part of development and a significant factor in the improvement of a pupil's overall maths attainment. Much of the academic research too supports the conclusion that motivation and confidence are important factors in pupil success. For example, Marzano (2000)1, suggests that up to 80% of the variance in pupil success can be accounted for by confidence-related issues. 

How to prove impact

However until recently it has been difficult for us to be able to prove quantifiably the impact of our Maths intervention. Last term, however, we implemented a series of pre- and post-intervention surveys with pupils from some of our primary schools. One of the results of these has been that we are now able to quantify the impact our interventions were having on pupils’ confidence, attitude to maths and pupils’ ability to explain their numerical reasoning.

In the autumn term, around 600 pupils filled out our pre and post-intervention surveys. The pre-intervention survey took place before the pupils’ first session and the post-intervention survey took place after the twelfth week of sessions.

Survey results

For pupils who initially reported low confidence in maths2, 88% reported an improvement in confidence after their Third Space sessions. This is a very encouraging improvement. Our tutors work hard to make sure our pupils experience success, so it’s great to see them reporting increased confidence.

For pupils who initially said that they found it difficult to explain their mathematical reasoning3, 85% found it easier to do so after using Third Space. Much of this is due to the personal interactions between tutors and pupils. Our tutors will often ask pupils to articulate their reasoning: Why have they chosen a particular operation? How have they come to this conclusion? This allows pupils to practice how to explain their working out.  

For pupils who said they disliked maths4, 72% reported that they enjoyed maths more after using Third Space. We hope that as a result of the pupils’ positive experience with their Third Space tutor, they will begin to see that maths can be fun and engaging, thus alleviating any negative perceptions of maths.

Although it’s a relatively small sample group, we’re very encouraged by the results and what they mean for the effectiveness of our one-to-one tuition as an intervention. Our hope now is that in promoting a pupil’s positive attitude towards maths and a meaningful improvement in their self-perception, it will have a significant impact on their academic attainment, both now and for the rest of their educational career. How exciting!

We are investing significant resources in pupil feedback and assessment to track the impact of Third Space, so do look out for further research updates. 

1. Marzano, R. J. (2000). A new era of school reform: Going where the research takes us Aurora, COL Midcontinent Research for Education and Learning
2. These pupils selected 1 or 2 out of 5 for “How confident are you in maths?”. 11% selected these options in the pre-intervention survey. 
3. These pupils selected 1 or 2 out of 5 for “How well can you explain your workings out?” 26% selected these options in the pre-intervention survey
4. TThese pupils selected 1 or 2 out of 5 for “How much do you like maths?” 13% selected these options in the pre-intervention survey


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