Technology causes decline in student performance

January 30, 2015 6:00 pm
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In an article in the New York Times, Susan Pinker questions whether the rise of technology in education will actually improve student learning. In a study conducted in the early 2000s at Duke University, economists Jacob Vigdor and Helen Ladd found that providing computers to students between 5th and 8th grade caused reading and math scores to decline and remain low. Rather than using the opportunity to expand their knowledge and complete schoolwork as was the hope, the students used the devices “to play games, troll social media, and download entertainment.”

An increase in technology can also be detrimental to low-income families. Children born in low-income families spend at least 40% of their waking hours in front of a screen. This amount of time is at least twice the time spent by middle-class children. Low-income children also receive less cuddling and experience less bantering than other children. These interactions appear to be essential for vocabulary and school success.

Increased access to technology does not necessarily contribute to greater student success, especially when students are not educated on the effective use of such resources. Pinker recommends spending less public money blindly supplying students with new technology, and more on training teachers about how to effectively integrate these tools into the curriculum.

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This post was written by Melissa Yu