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Building pupils' confidence in their maths abilities through new technology

Find out how UCL Knowledge Lab and its European partners are building pupils’ confidence in maths through gaming and AI.

kids and tech

Primary school pupils can boost their confidence in maths through a project developed by experts from the UCL Knowledge Lab with researchers and developers from across Europe.

iTalk2Learn - a three-year EU-funded project - uses game development, educational psychology and artificial intelligence (AI) to improve mathematical attainment. 

Following studies showing that pupils’ understanding of fractions at primary school age can be a predictor of attainment at 15, the team behind iTalk2Learn built the Fractions Lab.

This allows pupils to work on fractions while the AI component, Student Needs Analysis (SNA), detects a pupil’s basic emotions through speech and other interaction data. This helps the system to provide personalized feedback, to determine the next level of task, or if it would be more useful to switch to a more procedural learning environment to practice what students have learnt. 

Testing by 272 pupils aged 10-12 years old across Germany and the UK showed that the combination of structured practice, exploratory tasks, gaming and speech recognition helped primary school pupils to gain more conceptual understanding of fractions compared to student learning with a standalone intelligent tutoring system. In addition, the presence of personalized feedback that takes into account student’s emotions contributes to reducing boredom and off-task behavior, and may have an effect on short- and long-term learning. 

Dr Manolis Mavrikis (UCL Knowledge Lab) commented that following the success of the experiments:

It would be very interesting to see this approach applied in different topics, both in mathematics, such as algebra, and statistics as well as other subjects, like reading, on which we are working here at the UCL Knowledge Lab.

Meet the minds behind this discovery at the It's All Academic Festival on 5 October.