PISA 2018: Digital devices and student outcomes in New Zealand schools Publications
In this paper, relationships are presented between 15-year-old students’ device use at school and their knowledge and skills across reading, mathematics, and science literacy, which sit alongside digital literacy as foundational areas for success and further learning in the modern world. Students’ core knowledge and skills differ by the type of digital device they use at school, by the time spent routinely using devices, and by whether these devices are used in class by teachers or students, or both.
Author(s): Ryan Sutcliffe, Ministry of Education.
Date Published: August 2021
We are interacting with digital devices more than ever. It is of no surprise, then, that these devices are increasingly adopted in the classroom. But do they make a difference to students’ learning? This question is pertinent considering many students’ experiences of distance learning during COVID-19 lockdowns and the corresponding uptake in device-based learning worldwide.
This research shows that there is an urgent need to identify how devices can be optimally used because aside from a few specific situations, device use at school is generally associated with poorer academic outcomes, even after accounting for student background. It will be of interest to teachers, principals, and anyone interested in how current device use translates into academic and non-academic outcomes.
"Digital devices have the potential to enhance learning, but there are few situations where this happens currently and many in which learning may be hindered."
How students use devices at school is briefly examined. Then the paper delves into how prepared schools are for integrating devices effectively for teaching and learning. Data are presented too on how device use relates to outcomes such as students’ interest in technology and reading enjoyment.
- Most students had access to devices at school, but most types of devices were negatively associated with PISA scores, even after controlling for student factors. This was particularly the case for tablets and interactive whiteboards.
- PISA scores were lower for students who used devices during mathematics compared to those who did not use devices. Conversely, the best readers used devices with their teachers for more than an hour per week.
- Device use was associated with greater interest in technology but was unrelated to classroom climate and may even reduce students’ enjoyment of reading.
- Browsing the internet for schoolwork stood alone as being positively related to academic outcomes; other learning-related activities were negatively related.
- Few principals felt that their teachers had the time, incentives, or technical or pedagogical skill to effectively integrate devices in instruction; however, even schools that were considered prepared had similar or worse student achievement than less prepared schools.
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