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Research into play-based learning to address the learning crisis in Africa

School children sitting at desks playing with coloured bricks, with a teacher helping them

A new research grant is looking at how teaching teachers in Africa to adopt play-based practice could improve learning outcomes.

Right to Play, Canada, has awarded The Open University (OU) £112,000 to study the impact of the Learning through Play project (P3) in Ghanaian basic schools. The overarching goal of the P3 project is to improve the quality of education for Ghanaian girls and boys aged 4-12 through a scalable and replicable Learning through Play (LtP) model. To achieve this goal, the improvement of teachers’ instructional practice in relation to integrating play-based approaches in their practice is seen as essential.

This builds on earlier work led by Principal Investigator, Professor Kwame Akyeampong, with researchers from the Centre for the Study of Global Development (CSGD) in the OU’s Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies, working in partnership with researchers from the Institute of Education (IOE) University of Cape Coast, Ghana.

The research team collected and analysed baseline data on teachers’ classroom practice as well as their perceptions and attitudes towards using play-based instructional approaches to improve learning.

This new project will track the progress and impact of the project focusing primarily on grade 1 and grade 3 teachers. The team has administered a round of classroom observations and teacher surveys to develop insights into the extent to which teachers who benefitted directly and indirectly from the project have improved their practice. A final report of the research will be published in January 2023.

Professor Akyeampong said:

“CSGD’s research on learning through play in the Global South context is contributing significantly to global understanding of how play-based learning can address the learning crisis in Africa. This new research will provide fresh insights into how teachers’ play-based instructional practice can improve learning and lead to new publications that advance knowledge in this growing area of research.”

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