Education & Family

Interactive school desk 'boosts maths' claims research

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Media captionInteractive hi-tech desks could help boost the maths skills of primary school pupils, researchers have said

Interactive hi-tech desks could help boost the maths skills of primary school pupils, researchers have said.

The multi-touch, multi-user interactive 'smart' desks were designed, built and tested by Durham University.

The desks help children work together without any one individual dominating, the three-year project involving 400 children aged eight to 10 suggests.

Researchers said high costs mean the desks are "some way off" being a regular feature in schools.

However, they said they have already found a number of ways of reducing the cost of the technology.

Researcher Emma Mercier said the desks help pupils "find a range of solutions to arithmetic questions".

They act like multi-touch interactive white boards so that several students can use any desk at once.

This makes it is easier for students to collaborate on finding solutions to problems, according to the study, published in the journal Learning and Instruction.

Mathematical 'flexibility'

The classroom teacher gets a live feed of the desks and can intervene if any pupil needs help.

The researchers claim the desks can encourage pupils to use their mathematical skills to solve problems more effectively than traditional practice on paper.

"We can achieve fluency in maths through practice, however, boosting a pupil's ability to find a range of solutions to arithmetic questions is harder to teach.

This classroom can help teachers to use collaborative learning to improve their pupils' flexibility in maths," said Dr Mercier.

"Co-operative learning works very well in the new classroom because pupils interact and learn in a different way. The children really enjoy doing maths in this way and are always disappointed when you turn the desks off," she added.

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