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What is the Impact of Technology on Learning? (page 2)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Apr 30, 2014

Technology and Improved Test Scores

In addition to facilitating language and literacy development, technology has also had positive effects on mathematics achievement. Boster’s study (2004) of 2,500 sixth and eighth graders in Los Angeles showed a statistically significant increase in math achievement scores when students used digital video.

In a study reviewed by the Milken Exchange (Mann et al., 1999), teachers using the West Virginia Basic Skills/Computer Education (BS/CE) program found that all their fifth graders’ test scores rose on standardized tests, with the lower achieving student scores rising the most. Other findings revealed that BS/CE was more cost effective in improving student achievement than class size reduction, increasing instructional time, and cross-age tutoring programs.

Sandoltz et al. (1997) reported positive findings from the Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow (ACOT) project after nearly eight years of studying the effects of computers on the classroom. Aside from performing better on achievement tests, they found that ACOT students were developing a variety of competencies not usually measured. ACOT students delivered lectures along with their teachers. They became socially aware and more confident, communicating effectively about complex processes. They became independent learners and self-starters, worked well collaboratively, and developed a positive orientation to their future. Children were seen as learners and as expert resources, as they were challenged by complex and open-ended problems. These are the skills that will enable students to live productive lives in the emerging age of communication. Moreover, technology use in the classroom helped to decrease absenteeism, lower dropout rates, and motivate more students to continue on to college (Sandholtz et al., 1997).

In 2002, The WestEd Regional Technology in Education Consortium reviewed a number of research studies related to the impact of technology on learning. They chose studies that they judged to be the most methodologically sound and that had analyzed change over time. When reviewing this body of research they found convincing evidence that technology can be effective in teaching basic skills, can significantly improve scores on standardized achievement tests, can provide the means for students with special needs to communicate via e-mail, and can help teachers accommodate students’ varying learning styles.

Technology and Learner Motivation

Technology also motivates and engages the learner. When students have a choice in their assignment, see the relevancy, or can self-assess with teacher feedback intertwined, student motivation increases (Daniels, 2002; Ganske et al., 2003; Harvey, 2002). Technology lends itself to all of the above.

In the article, “Nonfiction Inquiry: Using Real Reading and Writing to Explore the World” (2002), Harvey concluded that the vehicle for increasing relevancy and motivation was through surrounding kids with compelling nonfiction. Researching online or using a CD-ROM allows students to search for information they are passionate about learning. Students can make choices when navigating online, which is engaging for learners. When students are given more choice in their tasks, those tasks are more meaningful and increase the students’ intrinsic motivation (Jordan & Hendricks, 2002).

Technology Use and Self-Esteem

The research literature also suggests that technology can have a positive impact on the self-esteem of students, especially for at-risk students with low self-esteem and self-confidence (O’Donnell, 2005; Kenny & Gunter, 2004; Taylor, Hasselbring, & Williams, 2001). In 2005, a study conducted by Romi and Zoabi examined the impact of computer technology on the self-esteem of dropout youth. The study focused on a control and intervention group, both consisting of 60 secondary level students. The intervention group was exposed to the MS Office Suite of tools to use in their learning, while the control group had no access to technology. Pre- and post-questionnaires were administered to determine attitudes toward learning, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. The findings showed a significant increase on all measures.

In 2000, researchers commissioned by the Software and Information Industry Association (SIIA) examined 311 research reviews and reports from published and unpublished sources. They reported that the reviews show that technology can have a positive effect on student attitudes toward learning, self-confidence, and self-esteem (Sivin-Kachala & Bialo, 2000). Other reviews (Coley, 1997) have reported that technology has been found to improve school attendance and decrease dropout rates with a positive impact on students’ independence and feelings of responsibility for their own learning.

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