Sci-napse (NEUROSCIENCE INFORMED APPROACHES to SCIENCE EDUCATION) project aims to evaluate whether the use of uncertain reward can raise attainment for students studying science, in particular disadvantaged learners. Using collaborative and playful pedagogic approaches, the study will use a large-scale Randomised Control Trial to examine the effect of uncertain reward on Year 8 science attainment. There is evidence that the use of uncertain rewards in teaching can increase learners’ abilities to recall information and make connections; the use of a collaborative game also has the potential to increase student motivation and engagement in learning.

Sci-napse will work with twelve developer schools to create a flexible pedagogic framework for embedding the principles of uncertain reward within collaborative game-based learning. The online Q-Fire environment will be used to design and present multiple-choice questions. The environment will implement uncertain rewards by providing pupils with an opportunity to take a chance to increase points for correct answers.

The project will provide evidence on the potential of uncertain rewards in real-life, in whole-class teaching by implementing a large scale randomised control trial in 2016-17, which will involve roughly 10,000 pupils in schools in the North West and South West of England.

Project Partners

Bristol University, Graduate School of Education
Manchester Metropolitan University, Education and Social Research Institute

Evaluation Partner

Institute for Effective Education, University of York


Education Endowment Foundation
Wellcome Trust