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

  • Lisa Barrow
  • Lisa Markham
  • Cecilia Elena Rouse

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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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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  1. Stephen Machin & Sandra McNally & Olmo Silva, 2006. "New Technology in Schools: is there a Payoff?," CentrePiece - The Magazine for Economic Performance 199, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  2. Abhijit Banerjee & Shawn Cole & Esther Duflo & Leigh Linden, 2005. "Remedying Education: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments in India," NBER Working Papers 11904, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Joshua Angrist & Victor Lavy, 2002. "New Evidence on Classroom Computers and Pupil Learning," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(482), pages 735-765, October.
  4. Austan Goolsbee & Jonathan Guryan, 2006. "The Impact of Internet Subsidies in Public Schools," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 88(2), pages 336-347, May.
  5. 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.
  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. 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.
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  1. Technology's Edge: The Educational Benefits of Computer-Aided Instruction (AEJ:EP 2009) in ReplicationWiki

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