Pupils 'do worse with computers'

An international study of about 100,000 15-year-olds in 32 different developed and developing countries suggests that the drive to equip an increasing number of schoolchildren in the UK with computers may be misplaced.

In a report to be given at the conference of the Royal Economic Society in Nottingham this week, Thomas Fuchs and Ludger Woessmann of Munich University say the research shows diminished performance in students with computers. —Robert BoothPupils ‘do worse with computers’  (Guardian)

Since computers and the internet are part of the subject matter I teach, not just the tools I use to teach, I can’t imagine teaching without computers. Occasionally I ask students in my lit classes to read from their blog entries, and occasionally I click through web pages devoted to complex upcoming assignments. But my freshman comp class meets in a room that doesn’t have a teacher’s station. Most of my contact time with students is spent doing traditional discussion and workshops — though I like to prime the pump, so to speak, by having students blog their initial responses to readings, and read their peer’s responses.

A bit of hope: “students with more than 500 books in their homes performed better in maths and science than those with none.”

Of course, I doubt the researchers went to these students’ houses and counted the number of books. In addition: the study gathered data in 2000.

I have many questions… was it having a computer that caused the drop in achievement, or having broadband/unsupervised access to the internet? I’ve known several students who’ve come close to dropping out, or who have in fact dropped out, because they spent too much time playing computer games and couldn’t get their act together when it comes to studying.

The article says the paper has not yet been presented at a conference, and doesn’t offer a link to the full version.