Home » Dry Wipe Boards in the Classroom: What The Research Reveals.

Dry Wipe Boards in the Classroom: What The Research Reveals.

As teachers, it is important to know if the tools and approaches we use are having the effect we want. The humble dry wipe board can provide a simple and convenient tool to quickly get into the minds of children and for the whole class to provide and share their input and feedback. So what impact can they have?

Dry wipe board

In the ever changing landscape of education, we are continually seeking innovative tools and methods to enhance our student engagement and learning outcomes. One such tool that has gained traction in recent years is the humble dry wipe board. These simple boards and pens offer a myriad of possibilities for interactive learning experiences, but what does education research say about their effectiveness in the classroom and how can we maximise that?

Dry wipe boards serve as valuable tools for rapid formative assessment, allowing teachers to gauge student understanding in real-time. According to a meta-analysis by Black and Wiliam (2010), formative assessment strategies, such as those facilitated by dry wipe boards, have a significant positive impact on student learning outcomes. By providing immediate feedback and opportunities for self-assessment, dry wipe boards help students identify areas for improvement and track their own progress over time.

How might this look in action?

I personally like the idea of something I call real time, personalised intervention. Why wait until I mark a worksheet hours after a lesson to find out some of my class did not ‘get it’?

The very best assessment is perhaps the most actionable one – the assessment that informs you what to do in the next few minutes of teaching. Unaddressed misconceptions can become embedded unless addressed in a timely and in-context way. This could mean regularly having your class provide responses to low stakes probing questions. A quick survey of responses will let you know if you can speed up, need to to slow down or perhaps split the class into groups to have teams or pairs deal various shared issues or help each other (peer learning).

Confidence is key.

Another question you can also ask to help build students’ willingness to contribute ideas, is to ask them “how confident are you about this?” They could use a simple face drawing to let you know. By lowering the stakes or helping the children recognise that they do not have to have the right answer, you can empower them.

Dry wipe boards can be a lot of fun. So mix up the approaches and uses. Use it in some lessons, don’t use them in others.

A study conducted by Smith and Higgins (2016) explored the impact of using dry wipe boards on student participation and engagement in the classroom. The researchers found that incorporating dry wipe boards into lessons led to increased student interaction and participation. By providing a platform for students to actively engage with the material, teachers observed higher levels of enthusiasm and motivation among their students.

Research by Johnson, Johnson, and Smith (2014) highlights the benefits of collaborative learning environments facilitated by tools like dry wipe boards. By encouraging peer interaction and collaboration, dry wipe boards promote the exchange of ideas and perspectives among students. This collaborative approach not only enhances social skills but also fosters deeper conceptual understanding as students engage in meaningful discussions and problem-solving activities.

In maths, you could perhaps have children note down a mental method they used. Children can see how others do it and may choose to adapt a new strategy over their old one if they see another is more efficient.

In my own class of 9 years olds, I asked the children to explain, in steps on their whiteboards, how they did addition of two digit number in their heads… the diversity and range of mental gymnastics was quite astounding! Some used taught knowledge of number bonds, some knew how pairs of tens added and then worked out the extra difference on their fingers, other would count first in tens, then fives, then twos… what became clear to all was that some methods were a lot more efficient than others and we had the start of a great discussion.

Supporting Visual and Kinaesthetic Learners

While learning styles can be thought of in different ways – either something to adapt the content to, or different ways to add variety to teaching – it is clear that dry wipe boards can extend traditional classroom methods in new directions.

For more visual or kinaesthetic learners, dry wipe boards offer a tactile and visually stimulating medium for learning. A study by Dunn and Dunn (2009) found that incorporating hands-on activities, such as writing and drawing on dry wipe boards, can improve comprehension and retention for students with diverse learning styles. By catering to different modalities of learning, educators can create inclusive learning environments where all students can thrive.

One thing I have not found mentioned often enough or explored explicitly in the research but something that might be a key factor, is the positive value of the temporary nature of responses for children.

Our own classroom observations and teacher feedback at Folens has indicated that students are far more likely to ‘risk’ providing an answer or contribution if it is not going to be permanently recorded or marked. We often ‘paper train’ children who come to believe that all their contributions will be marked or judged, this can foster feelings of anxiety or see them seeking to avoid offering an answer when they are uncertain.

My own suggestions when implementing dry wipe board with a new class, would be to highlight that they are simply “our thoughts and ideas boards” and that ideas can change and grow…. If you have a better idea or you find someone else’s idea changes yours, then just erase your board and update it!

It is pretty clear that the research strongly suggests dry wipe boards in the classroom can have a positive impact on student engagement, participation, and learning outcomes. From facilitating formative assessment to promoting collaborative learning, these versatile tools offer endless possibilities for interactive and inclusive learning experiences but like any new innovation the teacher need to find out what works for them and their students.

Here is a list of 12 ideas for using mini whiteboards you might want to consider.

Of all the ‘magic bullets’ out there to improve outcomes, this might be one with a very low risk and a high potential for genuine impact across a range of educational outcomes if integrated carefully and with a clear educational or learning objective shared between the teacher and children.


  • Black, P., & Wiliam, D. (2010). Inside the black box: Raising standards through classroom assessment. Phi Delta Kappan, 92(1), 81-90.
  • Smith, A., & Higgins, L. (2016). The impact of using mini whiteboards on student motivation and engagement. Journal of Education and Learning, 5(1), 139-147.
  • Johnson, D. W., Johnson, R. T., & Smith, K. A. (2014). Cooperative learning: Improving university instruction by basing practice on validated theory. Journal on Excellence in College Teaching, 25(3&4), 85-118.
  • Dunn, R., & Dunn, K. (2009). Teaching students through their individual learning styles: A practical approach. Pearson.

Teachers' Corner

At Folens, we believe that educators sharing insights and experiences with each other is crucial to improving education for all. Teachers’ Corner is edited by teachers, with teachers and for teachers.

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