Intervention details

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No impact for Primary science
UK Evaluated in the UK

Intervention description

Sci-napse is an intervention that focuses on a game-based approach to whole class teaching, it was developed by researchers at the University of Bristol and Manchester Metropolitan University. It aims to improve the science knowledge of Year 8 pupils through using quizzes in science lessons. An online quizzing tool, called Q-Fire, provides teachers with banks of questions, which can be added to or adapted to fit with lesson plans. Teachers ask the questions interspersed with usual classroom activity.

Evidence Summary

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and Wellcome funded an evaluation of Sci-napse between September 2016 and July 2017.

Teachers were given training in the use of Q-Fire. The evaluation was a three-armed randomised controlled efficacy trial with allocation at the class level within 44 schools. This trial tested two versions of Sci-napse, against a business as usual control.

  • Test-based: small teams of pupils (3 or 4) area allocated fixed points for answering questions correctly throughout the lesson.
  • Game-based: small teams of pupils (3 or 4) are allocated varying awards. Points for correct answers increase as the lesson progresses and there are opportunities for extra points through bonus round of random chance games.

Only 54% of teachers in the test-based Sci-napse classes and 29% of in the game-based classes met the minimum requirements of the interventions. In those classes which did meet the minimum requirements there was some tentative evidence of a positive impact. Teachers and pupils reported that Sci-napse was valuable as a revision tool but indicated that it was difficult to fit six questions into each lesson and that there were challenges with the technology – particularly around adding their own question.

Children in both test- and game-based Sci-napse classes made a small amount less progress than pupils in the comparison classes. The evaluation for the game-based intervention found an effect size of -0.05 for primary science. The evaluation for the test-based intervention found a mean effect size of -0.08 for primary science.

No impact for Primary science
No. of studies 2
No. of students 5,139
Average effect size -0.07

Key research

The Education and Endowment Foundation (EEF) and Wellcome funded an evaluation of Sci-napse, the evaluation did not find a positive impact on science test scores for Key Stage 3 pupils


Manchester Metropolitan University/University of Bristol

Key stages

  • Key Stage 3


The resource is available for free

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