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Below are some frequently asked questions related to UnLocke. If you have any further questions, feel free to send an email to unlocke@psychology.bbk.ac.uk, or get in touch via our contact form.
What is UnLocke?

UnLocke is an innovative computer-based learning activity designed to help children in Years 3 and 5 stop and think before tackling problems in science and maths. A friendly character, named Andy, poses tricky questions to three virtual game-show contestants who demonstrate correct and incorrect thinking. Children complete various tasks as if they are taking part in the game-show. The tasks have been carefully developed to meet the content of the national curriculum for each age group.

UnLocke is part of a research and development project funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and Wellcome Trust (click here to find out more). As part of the project, we will be following the progress of schools who are using UnLocke at the start of their maths and science lessons.

The project is split into three stages...

Stage 1
The project is currently in Stage 1

Our experts are working to refine UnLocke, making sure that it meets the learning needs of Year 3 and 5 pupils.

As part of Stage 1, 8 primary schools will receive a pilot version of UnLocke with a training session from one of our team for free. Over a 10 week period, participating classes will use UnLocke at the start of maths and science lessons, 3 times per week, for 15 minutes. This will take place for 5 weeks during November and December, before the Christmas break in 2016, and will continue for 5 weeks after Christmas.

We will follow the progress of these schools in order to find out what we may need to improve. This is an important part of the project, as it will help us to prepare UnLocke for the larger trial in Stage 2.

Schools involved in the pilot are welcome to recieve the final version of UnLocke when it becomes available.

Stage 2
We will begin stage 2 in October 2017

Once we have finalised the UnLocke programme, children in 100 primary schools across the UK will use UnLocke at the start of their maths and science lessons. We will run half-day training workshops for teachers and teaching assistants, to explain the background of the project and their involvement in its implementation. Over a 10 week period, participating classes will use UnLocke at the start of maths and science lessons, 3 times per week, for 15 minutes.

While most classes will be given this computerised learning activity in maths and science lessons, other classes will be given a similar computerised activity to use in PSCHE lessons instead. The PSCHE version focuses on the use of social skills in learning, rather than on misconceptions in maths and science, and will function as a control condition to allow us to evaluate the impact of the maths and science programme on children's learning of counterintuitive concepts.

As part of Stage 2, a small number of randomly selected children will be invited, on a purely voluntary basis, to take part in further cognitive assessments, including some brain imaging.. This will involve separate additional consent from parents and will help us to see the effect the learning activity has on the brain.

In addition to our own research, NFER (see below) have been commissioned by EEF to conduct an independent evaluation of the impact of UnLocke. This will involve a short specifically designed task measuring inhibitory control, and completing a pen-and-paper standardised math and science assessment.

Stage 3
We will begin this stage in January 2019.

After the 10 week programme, we will analyse the data we have collected, share our results, and collect feedback from participating schools on their experiences of using the learning activities and ways that they could be improved. Please check back for further information.

Why should my school take part in this research?
  • Neuroscience evidence suggests it will be effective. Click here for further information
  • You will be part of an initiative to bridge the gap between neuroscience research and education practice
  • You will have the opportunity to collaborate with neuroscientists with the aim of finding out what does and does not work in the classroom
  • Teachers/Teaching Assistants will receive training to give them an understanding of the neuroscience background and context of the study
  • You will have access to the UnLocke learning activity for use after the trial
  • You will be provided with the results of the standardised math and science assessments run by NFER as part of the evaluation of the UnLocke project
How will the impact of this project be evaluated?

As a requirement of the EEF and Wellcome Trust funding, this research is designed as a randomised control trial and will be independently evaluated by the UK’s largest independent provider of research, assessment and information services for education; NFER (National Foundation for Education Research). NFER work for UK government departments and national/local agencies with the aim of providing independent evidence to improve education and training. For more information, please visit the NFER website.

Who can take part?

Year 3 and 5 classes from Primary schools in London and the surrounding areas can volunteer to participate in Stage 1 of our project. For Stage 2, we are looking for Year 3 and 5 classes from state primary schools across England, but especially in the North-west, Midlands and South-west.

We have chosen these year groups in order to reflect the performance of key Stage 2 pupils. If your class is not a Year 3 or 5 class, please still get in touch if you think your school would be interested in having Year 3 and 5 classes participate. You can get in touch by completing the register of interest form on this website, or by sending an email to unlocke@psychology.bbk.ac.uk.

How is the safety of my pupils ensured?

The study has received full ethical approval from our ethics committee, following the guidelines of the British Psychological Society

All research assistants who will be working with the schools will have full enhanced DBS checks.

How will we find out about the results?

In late 2019, we will hold workshops for all participating schools where we will feedback the results of the project. NFER will also publish its report on the impact of the UnLocke project. This will be available through the EEF website shortly afterwards.

What is a randomised controlled trial?

In order to test the impact of UnLocke, the classes taking part will be randomly selected to either (1) use the UnLocke activity, (2) the alternative social skills based activity, or (3) continue with their usual teaching activities. This design is known as a randomised control trial. It aims to demonstrate the effect of each activity, both science/maths and social, by comparing their effects, and also comparing these to the effect of usual lessons. Each of the groups is essential for evaluating the impact of the UnLocke activities, so it is very important that all classes stick to their group and complete the activities as instructed throughout the whole trial period.

How do I get involved?

If your Primary School would like to be involved in this project, please click here to fill in our register of interest form