Another evaluation of computers in the classroom

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This time the evaluation comes from the U.S., and it finds that computers did help improve achievement in math. Authors Barrow, Markman, and Rouse in Technology's Edge conclude that:

Our results suggest that [computer-assisted instruction] may increase student achievement in pre-algebra and algebra by at least 0.17 of a standard deviation, on average, with somewhat larger effects for students in larger classes. Put differently, students learning pre-algebra and algebra through [computer-assisted instruction] are 27% of a school year ahead of their classmates in traditional classrooms after one year.

This previous post looks at an evaluation of computer use in classrooms in India. That evaluation found that computers were useful as a complement to the regular curriculum, not as a substitute for regular instruction. This seems to contrast with Barrow et al.

According to Barrow's description of the technology used in their evaluation, the computer-assisted instruction program "allows students to study math concepts while advancing at their own pace, enabling them to spend the necessary time on each subject lesson...The teacher's role in this environment is to provide targeted help to students when they need additional assistance." Both the Indian and American evaluations seem rigorous and both were randomized. I think it simply points to the near impossibility of comparing many types of programs between countries.


Ryan Hahn

Operations Officer

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