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Technology’s edge: the educational benefits of computer-aided instruction

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  • Lisa Barrow
  • Lisa Markham
  • Cecilia Elena Rouse

Abstract

Because a significant portion of U.S. students lacks critical mathematic skills, schools across the country are investing heavily in computerized curriculums as a way to enhance education output, even though there is surprisingly little evidence that they actually improve student achievement. In this paper we present results from a randomized study in three urban school districts of a well- defined use of computers in schools: a popular instructional computer program which is designed to teach pre-algebra and algebra. We assess the impact of the program using statewide tests that cover a range of math skills and tests designed specifically to target pre- algebra and algebra skills. We find that students randomly assigned to computer-aided instruction score at least 0.17 of a standard deviation higher on a pre- algebra/algebra test than students randomly assigned to traditional instruction. We hypothesize that the effectiveness arises from increased individualized instruction as the effects appear larger for students in larger classes and those in classes in which students are frequently absent.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-07-17.

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Date of creation: 2007
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-07-17

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Keywords: Computer-assisted instruction ; Technology;

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References

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  1. Abhijit Banerjee & Shawn Cole & Esther Duflo & Leigh Linden, 2005. "Remedying education: Evidence from two randomized experiments in india," Framed Field Experiments 00122, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. Austan Goolsbee & Jonathan Guryan, 2002. "The Impact of Internet Subsidies in Public Schools," NBER Working Papers 9090, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Machin, Stephen & McNally, Sandra & Silva, Olmo, 2006. "New Technology in Schools: Is There a Payoff?," IZA Discussion Papers 2234, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Joshua Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "New Evidence on Classroom Computers and Pupil Learning," NBER Working Papers 7424, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Grogger, Jeff, 1996. "Does School Quality Explain the Recent Black/White Wage Trend?," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 14(2), pages 231-53, April.
  6. Cecilia E. Rouse & Alan B. Krueger, 2004. "Putting Computerized Instruction to the Test: A Randomized Evaluation of a "Scientifically-based" Reading Program," NBER Working Papers 10315, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Figlio, David N. & Rouse, Cecilia Elena, 2006. "Do accountability and voucher threats improve low-performing schools?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(1-2), pages 239-255, January.
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Cited by:
  1. Schwerdt, Guido & Wuppermann, Amelie C., 2011. "Is traditional teaching really all that bad? A within-student between-subject approach," Munich Reprints in Economics 19919, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  2. Julie Berry Cullen & Steven D. Levitt & Erin Robertson & Sally Sadoff, 2013. "What Can Be Done to Improve Struggling High Schools?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 27(2), pages 133-52, Spring.
  3. Robert W. Fairlie & Jonathan Robinson, 2013. "Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Home Computers on Academic Achievement among Schoolchildren," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 211-40, July.
  4. Jonah Rockoff, 2009. "Field Experiments in Class Size from the Early Twentieth Century," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(4), pages 211-30, Fall.
  5. Fiorini, M., 2010. "The effect of home computer use on children's cognitive and non-cognitive skills," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 55-72, February.
  6. Cristia, Julián P. & Ibarrarán, Pablo & Cueto, Santiago & Santiago, Ana & Severín, Eugenio, 2012. "Technology and Child Development: Evidence from the One Laptop per Child Program," IZA Discussion Papers 6401, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Robert W. Fairlie & Rebecca A. London, 2012. "The Effects of Home Computers on Educational Outcomes: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Community College Students," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(561), pages 727-753, 06.
  8. Marchionni, Mariana & Pinto, Florencia & Vazquez, Emmanuel, 2013. "Determinantes de la desigualdad en el desempeño educativo en la Argentina
    [Determinants of the inequality in PISA test scores in Argentina]
    ," MPRA Paper 56421, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Susanna Loeb & Patrick J. McEwan, 2010. "Education Reforms," NBER Chapters, in: Targeting Investments in Children: Fighting Poverty When Resources are Limited, pages 145-178 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Victor Lavy, 2010. "Do Differences in School's Instruction Time Explain International Achievement Gaps in Maths, Science and Language? Evidence from Developed and Developing Countries," CEE Discussion Papers 0118, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
  11. Marchionni, Mariana & Vazquez, Emmanuel & Pinto, Florencia, 2012. "Desigualdad educativa en la Argentina. Análisis en base a los datos PISA 2009
    [Education Inequality in Argentina. An analysis based on PISA 2009 data]
    ," MPRA Paper 56420, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. Wuppermann, Amelie Catherine, 2011. "Empirical Essays in Health and Education Economics," Munich Dissertations in Economics 13187, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  13. Robert Fairlie & Jonathan Robinson, 2011. "The Effects of Home Computers on Educational Outcomes. Evidence from a Field Experiment with Schoolchildren," Working Papers 11-14, NET Institute, revised Sep 2011.
  14. Catherine Rodríguez Orgales & Fabio Sánchez Torres & Juliana Márquez Zúñiga, 2011. "Impacto del Programa Computadores para Educar" en la deserción estudiantil, el logro escolar y el ingreso a la educación superior"," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 008744, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.

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