Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Regular computer use for work, but not play, aids student test performance

31.01.2005


New Boston College/UMass study analyzes student computer use and test performance



Regular use of computers can have an effect on student performance on standardized tests, according to a new study by researchers at Boston College and the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.

Analyzing test performance and computer uses of 986 fourth grade students from 55 classrooms in nine Massachusetts school districts, the study found that the more regularly students use computers to write papers for school, the better they performed on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment Systems (MCAS) English/Language Arts exam. This positive effect occurred despite the fact that students were not allowed to use computers for the test.


Conversely, the study found that students’ recreational use of computers to play games, explore the Internet for fun, or chat with friends at home had a negative effect on students’ MCAS reading scores. Similarly, students’ use of computers to create PowerPoint presentations was also negatively associated with MCAS writing scores.

This study of students’ MCAS performance is part of the "Use, Support and Effect of Instructional Technology" (USEIT) study conducted by the Technology and Assessment Study Collaborative of the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. Funded by the US Department of Education, USEIT is a three-year assessment of educational technology that occurred across 22 Massachusetts districts.

The MCAS achievement component of USEIT is the most sophisticated analysis of the relationships between students’ computer use and test performance conducted to date. Building on several shortcomings of past research on this topic, this study collected detailed measures of a variety of student uses of computers in and out of school, controlled for differences in home learning environments, separated effects of teachers’ instructional practices, and controlled for differences in prior achievement by using third grade MCAS scores.

In addition to analyzing the effect of a variety of uses of computers on students’ total MCAS scores, this study also examined the sub-scores provided by the MCAS test.

At a time when standardized testing is playing an increasingly important role in shaping the learning experiences of students and instructional practices of teachers, the researchers believe this study provides evidence that students’ computer use does have an impact on student achievement as measured by tests like MCAS. More importantly, they say, the study demonstrates that different uses of computers have different effects on student learning.

"Specifically, this study finds that students’ use of computers throughout the writing process had a statistically significant positive effect on MCAS writing scores," said the study’s director, Michael Russell of BC’s Lynch School of Education. "Using computers simply

to type in final drafts of essays, however, had no effect on students’ test performance. These findings are consistent with past research and demonstrate the importance of allowing students to use computers to produce rough drafts, edit their papers, and to produce final drafts."

This study also indicates that using computers for recreational purposes had a negative effect on test performance, particularly for reading scores. The authors speculate that this occurs because students who spend more time using computers for recreational purposes at home may spend less time reading at home.

Similarly, the study found that use of computers in school to create presentations was negatively associated with writing test scores. According to the researchers, this negative relationship may result from students spending less time writing during class time and more time creating and revising multimedia projects that contain relatively small amounts of written work. In essence, time spent creating presentations may detract from time available during class to develop students’ writing skills.

"These findings are important for two reasons," said Russell. "First, at a time when schools are under increased pressure to raise test scores, yet are also facing budget shortfalls, this study provides evidence that investments in computers can have positive effects on student achievement. Second, it shows that teachers and students must be thoughtful about how computers are used and what types of learning they expect to impact."

"When examining the effect of computer use on student learning, it is important to consider how well a specific use is aligned with the measure of learning," added the study’s lead author, Laura O’Dwyer of the Graduate School of Education at UMass Lowell, formerly a researcher at Boston College. "While this study found that use of computers to create presentations was negatively associated with writing scores, it does not mean that students should not be creating presentations with computers. Creating presentations may be a positive learning experience, but such effects are not captured by a test like MCAS that measures reading and writing skills."

Adds BC researcher Damian Bebell, the study’s third author, "Although this study finds some interesting effects of students’ use of computers, teachers in this study generally did not use technology to teach. As more and more schools, districts, and states provide teachers and students with their own laptops, it will be interesting to see if teachers are able to use technology more in the classroom and if these uses add to the effects of student technology use."

Michael Russell | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.bc.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

nachricht Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

Im Focus: Bacteria harness the lotus effect to protect themselves

Biofilms: Researchers find the causes of water-repelling properties

Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

Innovation 4.0: Shaping a humane fourth industrial revolution

17.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientists propose synestia, a new type of planetary object

23.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Zap! Graphene is bad news for bacteria

23.05.2017 | Life Sciences

Medical gamma-ray camera is now palm-sized

23.05.2017 | Medical Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>