Improving academic results in Portugal

Learnings from the study carried out by the Portuguese Apps for Good team

Over the years we have received anecdotal feedback from teachers about students who not only became more engaged in learning, problem-solving and improving their technical skills, but for whom Apps for Good was actually transformative for their broader academic success at school.

Last academic year these anecdotes, thanks to the partnership we have with the Portuguese Ministry of Education, were put to the test by the team led by Joao Baracho, Paula Fernandes and Neuza Pedro, professor at the Institute of Education University of Lisbon.

This is a summary of their impressive results. You can read the full report (in Portuguese) here.

In 2016/17, a study to evaluate the impact on the academic performance of students’ studying the Apps for Good course in Portugal was conducted. The study involved 458 students from 12 schools from the different educational regions of the country. There were 5 elementary schools (Key Stage 3: 11 to 14 years old) and 7 secondary schools (Key Stage 4: 14 to 18 years old).

7c817d885a9ffdcf0f91f0be73184cf8

The study was based on pre-experimental methodological design (static group comparison), with the constitution of an experimental group (students participating in the Apps for Good project, n=248) and an equivalent control group (students of the same school not involved in Apps for Good who were within the same sociodemographic parameters, of the same cycle, year and educational level, and in numerical equivalent proportion, n=210).

The study focused on students’ final grades in different school subjects: Portuguese, English, Maths, Sciences, History, Geography, ICT.

To ensure total confidentiality and anonymity of the students, schools were responsible for selecting the students for the control group. The research team provided anonymized classification grids of the final grades of the 3rd and final term of the school year for students in both groups (experimental and control).

The results show that in all the schools analyzed it was possible to identify higher final grades in the experimental group. These differences were statistically significant for 11 out of the 12 schools analyzed. Reviewing the different subjects, the biggest differences were found in subjects related to Design and Information Technology, but positive results were also found in Maths and English.

In the secondary schools, the results are notably positive. In subjects such as Maths, Physics, Biology, Computer Networks and Computer Systems Programming, the average of the differences detected between the final grades of the students who participated in the Apps for Good Project and those who didn’t was close to  2 points higher (μ=1.64) on a 20-points scale.

While these results are only directly relevant to Portugal, we feel encouraged to spend more time investigating Apps for Good’s impact more deeply in other geographies now as well to better understand what in detail is driving these results. If you conduct education research based in the UK and you want to help us on that journey, please do get in touch!