Examining the Effects of Preschool and Early Elementary Educational Apps on Student Literacy and Math Skills
April 5, 2021
Kim, J., Gilbert, J., Yu, Q., & Gale, C. (2021). Measures matter: A meta-analysis of the effects of educational apps on preschool to grade 3 children’s literacy and math skills. AERA Open, 7 23328584211004183.
Thousands of educational apps are available to students, teachers, and parents, yet research on their effectiveness is limited. This meta-analysis synthesized findings from 36 intervention studies and 285 effect sizes evaluating the effectiveness of educational apps for preschool to Grade 3 children and the moderating role of methodological, participant, and intervention characteristics. Using random effects meta-regression with robust variance estimation, we summarized the overall impact of educational apps and examined potential moderator effects. First, results from rigorous experimental and quasi-experimental studies yielded a mean weighted effect size of +0.31 standard deviations on overall achievement and comparable effects in both math and literacy. Second, the positive overall effect masks substantial variability in app effectiveness, as meta-regression analyses revealed three significant moderators of treatment effects. Treatment effects were larger for studies involving preschool rather than K–3 students, for studies using researcher-developed rather than standardized outcomes, and for studies measuring constrained rather than unconstrained skills.
Read the summarized research brief, dive deep into the full article, explore the replication data, and learn about additional research by the READS Lab.