Home computers and school performance

Date posted: July 29, 2013

Perhaps the most important public goal at the national, state, and local levels is improving K-12 student performance. N.C. State University economist Mike Walden highlights a recent study on whether computers at home help kids at school.

“We want to emphasize here we’re looking at the evidence on computers in the home, not in the classroom. And we have a new study (of) over 1,000 students, children, were studied. They were in grades 6 to 10.

“This study was statistically designed to isolate the impact of any home computers that are available for those children on their classroom performance. And the conclusion was very, very direct. The study found absolutely no impact — no impact whatsoever — on classroom performance for a students who had access to home computers. None whatsoever.

“And again, we want to make clear we’re not talking about computers in the classroom — neither a positive impact nor a negative impact.

“Now what may be happening in this study is that some students actually do gain, in terms of classroom performance, by having access to a home computer, while others may actually not gain or actually retreat or go back because they may be using the computer for play things, rather than spending time on homework. But if those two effects are the case, they cancelled each other out in terms of the overall impact.

“Now this is one study. Obviously 1,000 children (is) not a great number, but it’s a statistically designed study, (and) it does give us pause in thinking about what really contributes to students doing better in school.”

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