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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Computer and students academic achievement in science

Computer and students academic achievement in science

Related Tags: Classroom Technology
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11 Replies 37 Views

Hello,

I always wonder if the use of computers in class change students' academic achievement. Any classroom teacher, particularly science teacher......

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Youki Terada's picture
Youki Terada
Education researcher at Edutopia
Staff

The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has a great position statement on the use of computers in science education (http://www.nsta.org/about/positions/computers.aspx). They see computers as a teaching tool to let students and teachers gather, analyze, and present data. Computers can also simulate phenomena that students normally wouldn't be able to observe. A useful resource for this is the National Science Digital Library (http://nsdl.org/). I set up a search for the term "visualization" so you can see a sample of what's available.

http://nsdl.org/search/results?verb=Search&q=visualization&submitButton=...

So computers can definitely help students learn in a deeper, richer way. I wouldn't suggest that computers should replace hands-on science, but I do think that computers enhance learning and provide opportunities for learning new things.

Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

I think this is like asking whether paper and pencils help a child learn.
It is not so much the tool, but what you choose to do with it. For science, there are excellent podcasts, simulations, virtual field trips to volcanos- you name it- availble online. Students can also produce projects in multimedia. My first science fair project was actually building a digitizer for an Apple II (back in the stone age of the 1980's) The second was building an experiment where we used the computer to control an electromagnet and measured gravity by timing how long it took a ball to drop from the magnet through a light beam sensor, experimenting with different heights, etc. It was great! And all of this was with a computer less powerful than the memory in my watch.
So I think in the end, the question is more about your goals, and then you can measure achievement accordingly- do a test with a group of students!
That said, teachers in our district are also using things like Skype to hold brief study and review sessions with students in the evening (optional) and have charted a vast improvement in student's scores on tests when they participate. Their achievement is going up, and it uses technology, but the core 'reason" is additional engagement and learning to use more active study skills rather than passive rereading of the text.

Dr. Babaiel- is this on point, or is there other information you want to know? How can we help?

Dr. Babaie's picture
Dr. Babaie
Technology Director and Curriculum Designer

Thank you Melissa. The page you referred to contains excellent amount of information in regard to the role of technology in education. I agree with you; it all depends how teachers use technology in their classrooms.

Dr. Babaie's picture
Dr. Babaie
Technology Director and Curriculum Designer

Youki,

Thank you for the resources you provided. I agree with you; computers, if used correctly, could provide students with vast opportunities in which they could learn and collaborate.

Dr. Babaie's picture
Dr. Babaie
Technology Director and Curriculum Designer

Whitney,

Thank you for clarifying the point I was trying to make. I'd like to know more about the study teachers have done with the Skype. Is there any way I could know more about this study? Only if It's possible.

Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

Hi Dr. Babaie-

I would love to put you in touch with both Jeffra Leo and Tamara fellows, teachers at our local middle school who use lots of tech with their classes and have been working with the skype study- using the reply feature, do you want to send me your email address and I'll introduce you and you can ask questions directly?

Keith Heggart's picture
Keith Heggart
High School Teacher from Sydney, Australia

Hello everyone,
I would just add that looking at the work of Seymour Papert and Ruben Puentedura is, I think, vital for considering the effective use of technology in classroom. As mentioned by the other posters, the intention and actions of the teacher are the crucial parts in determining the success of any laptop program.

Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

Hi Keith-

I agree 100%. Seymour Papert puts technology for kids into perspective, and I've looked at the whole process differently ever since. There are so many top down control issues in many classrooms that keep kids from having agency over their learning, and I think that's part of what kills the joy, fun and pure curiosity we all need.

Whitney Hoffman's picture
Whitney Hoffman
Producer LD Podcast, Digital Media Consultant, Author

Hi Dr. Babaie-

Please email Ms. Tamara Fellows, tfellows[at]kcsd.org- Tamara is a 7th grade history teacher and does some amazing things online, such as the skype study groups I mentioned and I think she has some data but I'm not sure if it's publishable, so to speak. She has also done things like allowed my son to skype into class when he was home sick, and it worked pretty well, actually. But making these one offs more routine is something I'd love to see. I'm just not sure every teacher is ready to take that step in our district, which is too bad.

Let me know how it goes- where are you located? maybe letting you two skype would be the best call of all!

Whitney

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