Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Laptop Use Is Improving Writing Scores


On the Maine Learns website there is a very thought provoking story about the relationship between student laptop use and writing scores. The study from the University of Southern Maine's Center for Education Policy, Applied Research, and Evaluation reports that writing scores on the MEA improved by an average of 3.44 points in the five years since middle school students began having 24 hour a day access to laptop computers. What is more telling than the average improvement is the shift to the right in normalized scores over the same period of time. (See the chart to the left).

Obviously there is more than one possible explanation for the improvement in writing scores none-the-less this study does provide proof of one benefit of providing all middle school students with laptops. Of course simply giving laptops to students does not automatically improve writing scores. The effort at the district and state level in Maine to help teachers develop methods for teaching with technology also contributes to the improvement in writing scores. The responses to the third question (see table 2) in the teacher survey is a very telling factor statistic in understanding part of explanation for improvement in student achievement. The responses to the third question indicate that teachers' perceptions are that students are more likely to revise their work when it is completed on a laptop. The teachers' responses coincide with the students' perceptions (table 1) that they are more likely to revise their work when it is completed on a laptop.

What is happening where you teach? Do your students have 24 hour access to computers? Does the USM study match with your experience?

Click here to download the full study. (It's about 20 pages).