An analysis of the effect of using Yacapaca to teach Physics at a British International School

This is a guest post from Matt Baker, who teaches Physics at Bangkok Patana School, one of the leading British International Schools in Thailand, and a Yacapaca Pathfinder school. Matt has been using Yacapaca for several years and has it well-embedded into his Physics curriculum (see here for Matt’s iGCSE course). I asked Matt how he knew that Yacapaca was boosting his results. Good scientist that he is, he laid out the data.

At Bangkok Patana School there are 6 classes of students who study IGCSE Physics and they are split into 3 populations – W, X and Y. Each teacher teaches 2 classes from a given population.

Students are sorted into populations based on KS3 attainment so each population should be of approximately equal ability at the start of Y10.

Last year’s results

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As you can see:

  • W had highest attainment. They were taught by me and used YP extensively throughout the course – a quiz every week and revision using YP too.
  • X has the lowest attainment. They were taught by a colleague who did not use YP.
  • Y had second highest attainment. They were taught by a colleague who used YP for revision at the end of the course only.

Pretty encouraging, right?

Of course, this is not a controlled experiment so we need to factor in:

  • are some teachers better at persuading weaker students to take Double Award Science instead of IGCSE Phy, thus skewing the results for their population upwards?
  • given the low numbers of students involved, is this a statistically significant result?
  • are the results entirely due to the different teachers – do the different teachers have more of an impact on learning than YP?
  • the ability of the students in each cohort might not be the same.
  • the tracking system at our school is not yet sufficiently developed to provide value added data for this cohort.

This year’s results

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As you can see:

  • W had highest attainment. They were taught by a colleague who used Yacapaca for revision at the end of the course only.
  • X had second highest attainment. They were taught by me and used Yacapaca extensively throughout the course – a quiz every week and revision using Yacapaca too.
  • Y has the lowest attainment. They were taught by a colleague who did not use Yacapaca.

The same questions about the validity of this as an experiment, and therefore the conclusions that can be drawn from it, of course apply.

Despite the lack of an unequivocal result from this, I’m still convinced that Yacapaca has a significant impact on our students’ learning of Physics:

  • Physics results have compared favourably with Chemistry and Biology results for the last couple of years since we started using Yacapaca in Physics.
  • If John Hattie is right and “feedback” is the holy grail of teaching then Yacapaca has it in spades – to the student about their learning and also to the teacher about the students’ learning.

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