The impact of 1:1 laptop use on middle school math and science standardized test scores

Researchers and evaluators have been attempting to document the impact of ubiquitous or 1:1 computing on students, teachers, schools, and communities. However, the most recent reviews of research on 1:1 computing initiatives reflect a dearth of rigorous studies and emphasize the need for well-designed, scientifically based research to measure the impact of 1:1 learning on student achievement. This study investigates the effect of 1:1 laptop to student ratios on math and science achievement in at-risk or struggling middle school students. The researchers used a pretest-posttest control-group design. The findings are based on between-groups analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) of longitudinal data comparing standardized achievement test scores. The researchers compared the test scores of students randomly assigned to 1:1 laptop classrooms with the test scores of students in classrooms without 1:1 laptops in the same middle school. Students were exposed to the treatment for two years and the authors used the students as the unit of analysis. Pre-existing achievement scores for each student were included as a covariate to statistically equate groups previous to analysis. Results showed significant post-intervention program effects for science achievement. Furthermore, there was a gender effect in science achievement, with boys significantly outperforming girls in the same 1:1 laptop classroom. In contrast, no significant program effects for math achievement were obtained. The results suggest that 1:1 laptop instruction can increase student achievement under certain conditions. This study has implications for policymakers, instructional designers, and educators who are currently implementing a 1:1 laptop program or considering such an implementation. The authors suggest the need for further research to help determine the efficacy of 1:1 laptop instruction and the implementation conditions necessary for increased student achievement in this context.

Dunleavy, M., & Heinecke, W.
Computers in the Schools, 24(3-4), 7-22.
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Content Area: 
Grade Level: 
middle school
IDEA Disability Category: 
emotional disturbance
major-other health impairment
specific learning disability
speech or language impairment
Instructional Support: 
electronic references and resources
opportunities to learn concepts
practice and reinforcement activities