Sun 20 Jun, 2010 11:45 am
Study: PCs hurt students' gradesArticle
BY LYNN BONNER - Staff writer, Raleigh News & Observer
You may want to stop and reconsider whether you think a home computer will help your child with reading and math.
A new Duke University study says North Carolina middle school students' test scores dropped after they got home computers, suggesting they spent more time playing "The Sims" than working practice math problems.
The study by Jacob Vigdor and Helen Ladd at Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy challenges the accepted wisdom that children who don't have computers at home are at a disadvantage compared with their wired classmates.
"Our sense is that kids in middle school are using them more for socializing," Ladd said. "We don't want to send the impression that there are major declines in math or reading scores. [But] We are very confident the effects are not positive."
Vigdor and Ladd cut off the study in 2005, in the age of primitive activities like instant messaging and before Facebook and Twitter became obsessions. They concluded that students get the most educational value from home computers when parents are there to make sure the students are not goofing off.
Their report, published this month on the National Bureau of Economic Research website, comes when schools and community groups want to get more children's fingertips on computer keyboards. School districts consider computers to be so important to student achievement that some high schools lend students laptops. Charities give away home computers so students can use them for schoolwork.
Mark Dibner, founder of a Durham nonprofit that gives computers to low-income families, said he had heard of studies like this one and suspects they don't tell the whole story. The Kramden Institute has given away more than 6,000 computers over the past seven years to North Carolina families.
"Duke studies have been around for awhile," he said. "I would love to ask them, if that's true, do you take computers away from your kids at home?"
Students need home computers for research, to learn how to use spreadsheets and other programs, and to communicate with teachers, he said.
Dibner said he'd like to have someone find out what happens to students' schoolwork after families get computers from Kramden, because he has only anecdotal evidence that they help.
"I've never had a teacher say, 'Kids in my class, when they get computers, they get dumber,'" he said. "It's always the other way around."
Computers are a tool. As with all tools, they are as effective as you make them. There is little right now online to help with reading and math - maybe not even writing. But, computers are great for researching and researching for a school project can tie in to learning how to use computers responsibly (how to evaluate your sources).
Computers serve another wonderful function - communication. Teachers can post homework online where students can access it even if they are home sick. Students can type drafts and email them to teachers or themselves so that they can continue to work on them at school. There are online mapping games to practice geography. There are online websites at which students can make their own tests and quizzes (some are quite elaborate) or take a quiz designed by someone else. Some teachers post cumulative grades on websites so that students (and parents) can keep real-time tabs on their term averages.
Buuuuuttt...... most of the kids I know spend most of their computer time at facebook or youtube (or some version of FB and YT). So, yes, it's all about how you use them.
My first and second and third reaction to the title of this thread is nonsense.
A large percent of all of human knowledge is now on the net and without that access you are way behind the students who have it at home.
There were probably similar studies and results after wide use of the new fangled (telephone, radio, television) became a household fixture.
I agree with lil K.