Title of Study: Effects of Using Instructional Technology in Elementary and Secondary Schools: What Controlled Evaluation Studies say
Author(s): James A Kulik
This review compares the results of 27 controlled evaluations of the effect of technology on student achievement in reading, writing, mathematics and the natural and social sciences. The report groups the reading studies into categories of a) integrated learning systems, b) writing-based reading programs and c) reading management systems. Studies on the effects of technology on student writing were grouped into a) word processing studies, b) studies of computer writing prompts and c) studies of computer enrichment.
Sponsoring entity(s): SRI International
Date conducted: 2003
Location of the study: This study can be accessed through the SRI International website.
- Elementary students
- Secondary students
Primary sources of evidence used in the study or report:
- Review of published studies on the effects of instructional technology on student achievement.
Primary Technology Application(s) Addressed:
- A variety of uses of instructional technology supporting reading
- A variety of uses of instructional technology supporting writing
- A variety of uses of instructional technology supporting natural and social sciences
Major education topic(s) addressed:
- Social science
- Integrated learning systems that provide basic skills instruction have little, if any, effect on student reading scores. In nine studies, students using integrated learning systems did at least as well as control groups, indicating no adverse effects. However, only three of the nine studies demonstrated a slight improvement in student reading scores.
- Writing-based reading programs showed large positive effects for kindergarteners in two studies. Six studies on first graders found moderate improvement in reading scores. Studies on elementary students above Grade 1 found smaller improvements in reading in the higher elementary grades.
- Reading management systems that help students make book selections at their reading level and then test comprehension of what they have read seemed to have moderately positive effect on student reading scores in three state-wide correlational studies. Three controlled comparisons also suggest a moderately positive effect on student reading levels.
- Word processing has a moderately positive effect on student writing skills.
- Computer writing prompts that guide students on writing mechanics or in development of ideas seem to improve student writing more than word processing alone, but only two studies were available for review.
- Computer enrichment lets students interact with computers in a variety of relatively unstructured ways, including games, simulations and tutorial programs. Early studies (pre-1990) found a negative impact on student writing, but six more recent studies found a small positive effect.
- Integrated learning systems improved math scores slightly to moderately.
- Computer tutorials improved student learning in natural sciences and social sciences.
- Computer simulations have little effect on student learning in science. Early studies found no positive effect, four of six studies after 1990 found a generally positive effect.
- Microcomputer-based laboratories that use sensors to collect data on physical systems had no effect on student learning.
Practical implications of the findings:
- The range of findings demonstrates that some technology can improve student performance in some academic areas, but that it is not equally beneficial in all areas of student learning.
- In the author’s comparisons of older studies with more recent studies, it is clear that educational technology has been improving over the years, and that educators must choose carefully the applications that will have the desired effects on student performance.
The author uses measures of effect size to permit the comparison of a large number of studies.
Last Updated (Tuesday, 02 February 2010 09:20)