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2003 When Each One Has One: The Influences on Teaching Strategies and Student Achievement of Using Laptops in the Classroom

Date: 2003
Author: Deborah L. Lowther and Stephen M. Ross
Affiliation: The University of Memphis Center for Research in Educational Policy
Keywords: problem solving, writing


This study examined the educational impacts on classroom activities, technology usage, writing achievement, and problem-solving of providing 5th, 6th, and 7th grade students with 24-hour access to laptop computers. Participants included students, teachers, and parents from the two groups.

Although systematic observations revealed relatively few differences in teaching methods between Laptop and Control classrooms, Laptop students used computers more frequently, extensively, and independently. Writing assessment results showed substantial and significant advantages for Laptop over Control students, with six of eight effect sizes exceeding +0.80. Results also showed significant advantages for the Laptop group on five of the seven components of the problem-solving task.

Key Findings:

Is Teaching Different in a Laptop Classroom?

In the Year 1 evaluation of the program results indicated greater uses in the Laptop classes of student-centered teaching strategies, such as project-based learning independent inquiry/research, teacher as coach/facilitator, and cooperative learning. Overall, the Laptop classes were "busier" and more active learning environments. Most revealing was the Laptop students' superiority in using the computer as a learning tool. Another positive impact is suggested from the significant finding in Grade 5 (and directional trend in Grades 6 and 7) for Laptop students to be more attentive and interested in learning relative to Control students.

Do Students Achieve Differently in a Laptop Classroom?

Two measures of achievement--a writing prompt and problem-solving task--were administered in this study to assess achievement. The Laptop students were demonstrating superior writing skills and had two seemingly important advantages over their Control counterparts. One was that their teachers placed greater emphasis on research and problem-solving tasks than did the Control teachers. Second, Laptop students had greater accessibility to and better skills at using application software geared to solving open-ended learning problems.

Source Article: http://aalf.org/Resources/courses.lib.odu.edu/eci/roverbau/idtsemf04/%20Assets/Readings/morrison/When_each_one_has_one.pdf