Impact of Technology

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In their meta-analysis review of research conducted between 1993 and 2000 on the effectiveness of DES, Murphy et al (2001) found evidence of a positive association between use of DES products and student achievement in reading and mathematics, an association consistent with earlier reviews of the research literature on the effectiveness of computer-based instruction (e.g., Kulik & Kulik, 1991; Kulik, 1994; Fletcher-Flinn & Gravatt, 1995; Ryan, 1991). Students in the early grades, from pre-K to grade 3, and in the middle school grades appear to benefit most from DES applications for reading instruction, as do students with special reading needs.

In a 2000 study commissioned by the Software and Information Industry Association, Sivin-Kachala and Bialo (2000) reviewed 311 research studies on the effectiveness of technology on student achievement. Their findings revealed positive and consistent patterns when students were engaged in technology-rich environments, including significant gains and achievement in all subject areas, increased achievement in preschool through high school for both regular and special needs students, and improved attitudes toward learning and increased self-esteem.

O'Dwyer, Russell, Bebell, and Tucker-Seeley (2005) found that, while controlling for both prior achievement and socioeconomic status, fourth-grade students who reported greater frequency of technology use at school to edit papers were likely to have higher total English/language arts test scores and higher writing scores on fourth grade test scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) English/Language Arts test.

Michigan's Freedom to Learn (FTL) initiative, an effort to provide middle school students and teachers with access to wireless laptop computers, has been credited with improving grades, motivation and discipline in classrooms across the state, with one exemplary school seeing reading proficiency scores on the Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) test, administered in January 2005, reportedly increasing from 29 percent to 41 percent for seventh graders and from 31 to 63 percent for eighth graders (eSchool News, 2005).

In examining large-scale state and national studies, as well as some innovative smaller studies on newer educational technologies, Schacter (1999) found that students with access to any of a number of technologies (such as computer assisted instruction, integrated learning systems, simulations and software that teaches higher order thinking, collaborative networked technologies, or design and programming technologies) show positive gains in achievement on researcher constructed tests, standardized tests, and national tests.

Cavanaugh's synthesis (2001) of 19 experimental and quasi-experimental studies of the effectiveness of interactive distance education using videoconferencing and telecommunications for K-12 academic achievement found a small positive effect in favor of distance education and more positive effect sizes for interactive distance education programs that combine an individualized approach with traditional classroom instruction.

Boster, Meyer, Roberto, & Inge (2002) examined the integration of standards-based video clips into lessons developed by classroom teachers and found increases student achievement. The study of more than 1,400 elementary and middle school students in three Virginia school districts showed an average increase in learning for students exposed to the video clip application compared to students who received traditional instruction alone.

Wenglinsky (1998) noted that for fourth- and eighth-graders technology has "positive benefits" on achievement as measured in NAEP's mathematics test. Interestingly, Wenglinsky found that using computers to teach low order thinking skills, such as drill and practice, had a negative impact on academic achievement, while using computers to solve simulations saw their students' math scores increase...
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