Narrowing the gap: Literature review

Underwood, Jean; Banyard, Philip; Betts, Lucy; Farrington-Flint, Lee; Stiller, James and Yeomans, Suzanne (2009). Narrowing the gap: Literature review. BECTA.



This review supports a research programme that is exploring how technology can narrow the gap for under- and low-achieving learners in secondary schools.

Technology can support learning for underachievers by improving results and increasing engagement. Research shows that it can do this by:

•monitoring behaviour and targeting learners who need special attention
•making the curriculum relevant to learners' everyday experiences
•encouraging learners' self-assessment and developing educators' reflective practices
•offering targeted online support to learners need it
•improving the literacy skills of Non-English Mother Tongue learners
•developing learners' executive attention and improving their intelligence scores.
Research shows that many different approaches using technology are effective. For instance, playing electronic games can encourage learners to practice skills such as language development. Games can also engage learners with special educational needs, such as ADHD. In one study, boys aged 9-11 with ADHD played a computer driving game. They were more engaged and had a tiny dropout rate compared to boys with ADHD who did not play.

Using presentation software in the classroom can also produce results. Researchers found that learners rate educators who use this technology more highly than educators who don't.

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