A student survey from the Center for American Progress found that while students may have access to the latest technology, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are getting the most from the tools.
The survey showed that 34% of eighth-grade students taking the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) math exam used computers only to drill on facts, while fewer than a quarter used the devices to work on spreadsheets or with geometric figures. The results were not much better in high school science classrooms, where 73% of seniors taking a national assessment exam said they regularly watched movies or videos in class.
“Schools frequently acquire digital devices without discrete learning goals and ultimately use these devices in ways that fail to adequately serve students, schools, or taxpayers,” wrote Ulrich Boser, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and author of the report.
On the other hand, there is evidence that technology does allow students to work independently and at their own pace, freeing teachers to work with smaller groups.
A study conducted by the RAND Corp. found that high school students who used an algebra software program created for the research nearly doubled their scores on standardized math tests compared to those using a traditional high school math curriculum. The technology allowed students to gain an understanding of the math concepts, rather than just drilling on the problems.
“We’re not just seeing whether they got the answer right or wrong, but why they got it right or wrong,” said Steve Ritter, chief scientist at Carnegie Learning, the math curriculum developer that created the software.