EQUS – Enhancing the Quality and Usability of Spreadsheets
'Ready, steady STEM' initiative funded by the Technology Strategy Board and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
There are over an estimated 3 million people in the UK who are dyscalculic or dyslexic. School and higher education learners face these challenges especially in numerate disciplines such as science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). Spreadsheets represent a common universal tool for supporting numerate skills and applying them within the STEM subjects. However, spreadsheets are surprisingly error prone – it is estimated that over 40% of spreadsheets contain errors. Many such errors concern the use of formulae where their textual form provides little indication of the underlying operational and function computation represented. As a consequence, learners are faced with having to carefully study formulae to tease out what is going on.
The EQUS innovation aims to make the relationship between spreadsheet functionality and its visual representation easier to understand, addressing the difficulties of comprehending the textual form. The innovation will operate as a Microsoft Excel plug-in that automatically displays a more fit for purpose visualisation of formula. The approach will determine improved approaches to representing, conditions, computations, processes and functions that can be used in formula.
This solution should help ensure a better understanding of spreadsheets as a tool. This will raise learner confidence and lower the barrier to early engagement with the STEM teaching.
EQUS provides a unique visualisation technology for increasing student confidence with spreadsheets, to enhance self directed learning