From the reading I have done, there is very little research and data gathered in whether Computers in the classroom raise student achievement.
Kirkpatrick & Cuban's (1998) article on Computers make kids smarter-right? critiques the flaws in the research on this subject and the mistakes researchers make with lack of aim /purpose, data gathering and effectiveness statements.
The effectiveness statements from a lot of studies lack credibility and are of little use, unless there is elaboration on the childrens' ages, the subject, the software used, the kinds of outcomes that were sought, and how the study was done (Kirkpatrick & Cuban 1998). Over the years, I have been doing university study on this subject e.g. computers, technologies, pod casting, digital story telling etc, I have noticed that a lot of research articles that appear on the databases do not cover these aspects.
* Type of study being conducted: Qualitative or Quantitative
* The aim / focus as to why the research is being conducted
* Name of the school
* Sample size
* Participants - age, year group and number required
* Groupings:- experimental, control, random
* Data Gathering e.g. interviews, test, survey, (frequency of this process)
* Findings / Results
* Data Analysis
* Evaluation / Conclusion
Kirkpatrick & Cuban (1998) highlights that a lot of material on the use of technologies in the classroom do not have a clear focus / purpose on what the technology is used for, why it is used and how it relates to the learning.
Another area research falls down is when standardized tests are used for comparing student progress before and after the computer technologies are implemented (Kirpatrick & Cuban). This type of assessment does not measure what the computer has taught the students. This type of assessment is like comparing apples with bananas. There are so many other influences which may determine whether one group performs better than the other group.
One of the interesting aspects I found out from Kirkpatrick & Cuban's article was how magazines, newspapers and policy briefs are very selective in which studies they cite and sometimes ignore the research findings. It makes me wonder whether to believe everything I read on this subject if the content is biased and not research driven. A lot of misinterpretations can easily occur, without the full facts. It makes us all gullible to misled information.
Another article I've read was Schacter and Fagnano (1999) on Does Computer Technology Improve Student Learning and Achievement? How, When, and under what Conditions? In this article a range of software programmes were reviewed that fitted under Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL), Intelligent Tutoring systems.
The results from the implementation of these software programmes enabled these areas to be explored further inquiry learning, reflection, collaboration, co-operative learning, design and creativity. Learning improved more so than traditional classroom teaching methods. This was through ensuring computer technologies are designed according to different educational and psychological theories and principles.
I believe the key to this success was making sure that the technology integrated with what the students were currently learning.
Schacter & Fagnano (1999) argue meaningful learning computer technologies need to be designed to align with sound learning theory and pedagogy.
So overall as educators we need to have a clear purpose as to why we are using a particular technology to enhance student learning and we also need to relate it back to sound learning theory and pedagogy.
Kirkpatrick, H,. & Cuban (1998) Computers make kids smarter. Techno Quarterly, (7) 2
Schacter, J., & Fagnano, C. (1999). Does computer technology improve student learning and achievement? How, when, and under what conditions? Journal of Educational Computing Research, 20(4), 329-343.