Well respected research

4 proven methods to significantly raise attainment

Each of these techniques is associated with significant learning gain - timely practice is the tool that makes all 4 methods easy for the teacher to apply.

In a nutshell:

  • assessment for learning tells the teacher how well learners have learned something and so teachers can then act, if need be, to improve that learning or teach something harder on the firm learning foundations the teacher has established that the learner has.
  • feedback is a process that enhances learning by providing learners with the opportunity to improve their current or recent attainment, by comparing with an ideal.
  • mastery learning requires teachers to hold back from teaching harder knowledge/skills/methods until the learner has mastered the prerequisite knowledge/skills/methods.
  • retrieval practice or spaced learning requires that practice questions are spaced out over time - rather than done in a block just after teaching - so that the learning can be recalled for longer.

The app supports the teacher to be able to use these methods, and significantly raises the attainment, confidence, problem solving and numeracy skills of learners.

In timely practice each of these methods work hand in hand to support the learner and each other.

To apply mastery learning we start with assessment for learning to find a suitable starting point to teach each topic. We ensure that the learner has all the pre-requisite skills and that what we will be taught is neither too easy nor too hard. Once taught, the retrieval practice or spaced learning enables the learners to extend the duration for which they can remember that learning for. Sometimes feedback between the teacher and the learner is required if part or all of the learning has been forgotten or misapplied. In order to ensure recall and accuracy whilst minimising the number of practice questions we use an increasing interval retrieval practice or spaced repetition system (SRS); and we make sure that the feedback is worthwhile by ensuring that the learner can remember the feedback when they come to practice the next similar question. Over time the app tracks the learners' depth of learning - this is done by regular assessment for learning of the timely practice assignments. By looking at the Progress on Topic the teacher can see when the leaners have "mastered" the recently learned layer from the topic and are ready to move on to learn harder work. 

apply other highly regarded theory related to learning

Much research tells us that overlearning minimises and increasing interval retrieval practice maximises the length of time that new learning can be recalled for. In other words the most popular practice regimen used by teachers is hugely inefficient in embedding learning and the regimen used by timely practice is much more efficient. 

Although there is some contention whether deliberate practice is sufficient to make a person an expert, it is clear that it is must be part of the training programme. All practice within the timely practice assignments is deliberate practice - the intention may be to increase the depth of learning, how long the learning can be recalled for or the intention may be to improve the accuracy of the learner. In learning to become an expert, most people have a valued colleague or mentor who helps them plan their practice. Learners using the timely practice app rely on their teacher to decide what to practise and the timely practice app to decide when to practise.

Whether you prefer to use the vocabulary of chunks or mental schema or schemata to talk about how learners build up interconnections in long term memory, there is little doubt that this is the mechanism of how humans learn to do the many complex things we are capable of. Happily chunk-based learning can help learners with smaller working memory capacity learn, as their more highly attaining peers do, because the chunks in long term memory replace some of the working memory requirements for answering questions. The recommendations from chunk-based learning of teaching standard problems throughly first, to teach using an improving spiral curriculum and to teach from the known to the unknown and the simple to the complex match the way that each topic is split into layers and the recommendations of finding and firming learning foundations before moving on to teaching on firm learning foundations

Although scaffolding is known to be effective at helping learners learn, it has such wide meaning, and requires adaptability and skill by the teacher - so rather than researchers proving scaffolding "works" they spend their time and skill looking at how to do it best. One often overlooked aspect to scaffolding is that fading of scaffolding needs to be done gradually, which is in opposition to a "teach topic once per year" scheme of learning, but fits well with timely practice's recommended spiral of gently rising expectations. We like to think of our layers as being scaffolding over time; as learners master a layer, the learner has built a chunk which becomes the learners' internal scaffolding, and so the teacher doesn't need to provide external scaffolding to teach the next layer. Sometimes however, we provide 2 layers: one with the scaffolding and one with very similar question types without scaffolding. In the future we hope to have the app automate the process of moving from the layer with to the layer without scaffolding.