Thursday, December 04, 2008

Do Computers in the Home Help with Test Scores?

A new study by Charles T. Clotfelter, Helen F. Ladd and Jacob L. Vigdor of Duke University shows that just having a computer in every home is not going to help students learn. In fact, it may be detrimental. Especially in Math and Reading. These are some very surprising results. Scaling the Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology and Student Achievement is a 56 page PDF, just so you know. Some interesting quotes:

Among students in nursery school through 12th grade, rates of home computer use were 78% for whites and 46% for blacks; 88% for those with a postgraduate-educated parent and 35% for those with high school dropout parents.

Students who own a computer but never use it for schoolwork have math test scores nearly indistinguishable from those without a home computer, while scoring slightly better than reading. Students reporting almost daily use of their home computer for schoolwork score significantly worse than students with no computer at home.
Italics mine.

Could it be that students waste time surfing? Facebooking? Gaming? Does depending on a computer for schoolwork cause the brain to fail at learning how to figure things out? Or does working on a computer keep things in short-term memory? Does it create impatience?

Rather than spending so much time facebooking, or even doing schoolwork on the computer, what they need to be doing is learning how to do things with the computer. Create games and web pages, do programming, and yes, learn math and reading. These are the things that will help them make a good living. Sitting around entertaining themselves will only leave them and their children "underprivileged."

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