There are many research reports and articles that have talked on the effectiveness of technology in the learning environment of students. This research findings and reports have reflected varied opinions and conclusions. On the positive side of the continuum, those who are in support of technological importance in the students learning have cited research studies showing the positive impact of technology in the learning of a student. These observations have not barred the critiques from tabling their observations, stating that there is very little, if any research evidence supporting the claims that technology in the student learning is of any significance (Kimble, 1999).
The purpose of this research paper is to dig deep into the research findings in order to unearth the truth of this matter. The paper shall endeavor to identify the Impact of Technology on Student Learning and Achievement. The educators who are involved in decision making regarding the improvement of education are interested in knowing whether employment of education in the learning system will be of any significance as far enhancing education is concerned.
For over twenty five years now institutions of learning continue to invest in the constantly changing technology, nevertheless one question has remained unanswered all through, “is there any evidence that the use of technology in the learning of students leads to higher levels of the learning?” The need for an answer has increasingly become more urgent in the past few years because of two main factors: One, the need to improve on standards which is based on accountability and two, the organizational cost which is/ will be involved in the purchase and implementation of the technology (Protheroe, 2005).
It’s good for any learner, educators, administrator, authority figures in education and the government at large to understand and accept the fact that technology is here to stay. We are living in the world where interacting with technology is inevitable; in fact the digital technology has become part of life, in that it’s inseparable from man livelihood. Technology is used in almost all parts of the universe for gathering information, constricting knowledge, keeping records, distance learning, performing simulations, creating proposals, and collaborating lifelong learning and work globally (Margaret, Culp, & Spielvogel, 2005). The pervasive use of technology in all spheres of life that includes education, business, communication industry, industries, entertainment, transport, health among many other fields warrants an educator to employ more efforts in preparation of students so that they will play active roles in the technological world (Schacter, 1999). We do not refute the fact that the student will need technology in their day to day lives, but the question we ask ourselves is; will the students’ learning be impacted by the employment of technology in their learning system?
We can’t help it but seek the truth; policy makers, governors and legislators each year find themselves in a fix facing a difficulty of making a choice among diverse attractive options on educational improvement. The question of whether they should invest on reduction of size of a classroom, teacher’s training, textbook addition, childhood education or employment of technology in the learning system so as to perk up the end product of education remains unanswered. Since advanced technology that is employable in the learning system is not very old the study of the impact of technology on the learning of students is still at infancy (Schacter, 1999)
The report from the CEO Forum (2001) has pointed out that there is a need for a student’s achievement to be broadened so as to be inclusive of the 21st century skills that will inevitably be required for the student to thrive into the future. The report has argued that the same technology has been important in revitalization of America’s economy, business and development it’s equally applicable in enrichment of the education system. It’s imperative to employ every arsenal that could play an important role in ensuring that students learning is boasted making the student a better candidate as well as a more productive worker in the future.
The concept of the impact of technology upon application in the education system is quite a complex issue; this is owing to the fact the use of technology in the student learning has not been exercised for long hence there are still fears of whether investing in the same is wise and beneficial. There are a number of literatures that attest to the fact that technological application in the learning of the student is of great importance in impacting on a student’s education and in enhancing of learning achievements.
In this chapter secondary data from empirical reviews of literatures on technological impact will be unearthed. A review of these literatures is done by reviewing the meaning of importance of technology in relation to student’s academic life. The rationale underlying the review is to build up a suitable conceptual framework for this study.
A researcher known as James Kulik conducted a research using a technique known as meta-analysis so as to sum up the findings from more than five hundred individual researches of computer-based instruction. In the use of computer based instruction the educational process is individualized so as to accommodate the interests, the needs, the learning style the current knowledge and proclivities of the students in question. The software that are used in computer based instruction consist drill, tutorial, practice as well as more recently integrated systems of learning (Schacter, 1999).
James Kulik made several conclusions in his 1994 works that are very important in answering our question on the impact of technology on the learning of a student. The findings included:
The average performance of the students who use computer based instruction was found to be higher: 64th percentile of test achievement. The students who were on the control end; those who were not using computers scored averagely lesser; 50th percentile (Schacter, 1999). He also found out that in relation to time, the average time spent by those who receive computer based instruction was lesser than the control group who were not instructed through a computer. Hence he pointed out that student learn more in lesser time in a situation where they receive computer based instruction (Schacter, 1999). He also found out that the students who used computer based instructions were seen to spend more time in computer and in learning than their counterparts who were not using computers. He concluded that students happen to like their classes the more and even develop positive attitude to leaning in a situation where their classes have computer based instruction (Schacter, 1999).
On the negative side of the employment of computer- based instruction in learning, he identified that computer did not positively affect every circle of a student life; for example the interpersonal interaction of students was found to be lesser hence having some negative impact on their social skills (Schacter, 1999)
In 1998 Jay Silvin-Kachala made a review of 219 research studies that were conducted from 1970 to 1977 in an attempt to asses the effect of technology on educational achievement and learning across all the domains of learning and all ages of students (Schacter, 1999). When he did his analysis of his findings he reported some consistent patterns are outlined below:
The students who learn in technology rich environments experience some positive effects in their learning achievements in all the major academic areas. Learners in technologically rich environments showed an increased achievement in their preschool all through to higher learning (Jonassen, Howland, Mara, & Crismond, 2006). This was applicable for both the regular and special needs student. The attitude of students towards learning as well as their self concept was found to improve consistently in situations where the students were instructed through the use of computers.
In 1999 Dale Mann undertook a study in the state of Virginia in a program known as BS/CE. In this program he analyzed a representative sample of students (950 fifth-grade students) on their achievements from eighteen elementary schools from across the entire state. Students in fifth-grade had been participating in BS/SC program in West Virginia from 1991 to 1992. Data collection was made from 290 teachers in order to identify the influence that technology system integrated learning in West Virginia had on the achievement of the students. The focus of this integrated learning though technology was focused towards teaching of readings, mathematics, Vocabularies, and spellings (Schacter, 1999). There were several variables that were collected for analysis that is the intensity of the basic skills and computer education, the prior achievements of the students and socio-demography, the students’ and teachers’ attitude towards BS/CE, and the teachers training.
The findings for BS/SC were as follows:
It was identified that the more the students participated in the BS/CE the more their exams results were found to rise on Stanford nine. A great achievement was found on the part of the students after the student were involved in consistent access to technology, when the student’s and teachers attitude towards technology was enhanced, and teachers were involved in training on technology (Margaret, Culp, & Spielvogel, 2005). The results were very positive for all the results for the students were. The opinions of half of the teachers in the sample were that technology has helped to a great deal in achievement of West Virginia’s goals of instructions and objective. The teachers further added that their enthusiasm towards BS/CE increased as time passed by (Schacter, 1999).
Apple (2002) have argued that one of the most imperative contribution that can be drawn from the use of technology in the learning of a student is that it affects the attitude of a student as well as their teachers towards the learning and imparting of knowledge respectively. There are several studies that have identified that when technology is made part of a student’s life the attendants improves significantly and the rate of dropouts is declined (Apple, 2002).
Baker Gearhart and Herman conducted and an evaluation of the Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow in 1994 in an endeavor to asses the impact of interactive technologies in the learning as well as teaching process in five schools that were located in various parts of the nation (for example Ohio, Minnesota, California, and Tennessee). The reasons behind ACOT were to emphasize the educators of the importance of computers in the learning process (supporting student initiative), motivate teachers and students to engage in long term projects, allow both parties of the learning process access wide range of learning materials and encourage instructional innovation as well as cooperative learning (Apple, 2002).
This study took place for five years whereby comparisons were made; the comparisons consisted of: ACOT students’ achievements as well as progress over some time, the basic learning skills of ACOT students’ performance in the nationally reported norms, and teachers teaching practices of ACOT teachers.
The following positive findings were identified:
The experience from ACOT appeared to lead to some new learning experience that required a higher level of problem solving or reasoning. It was also identified that ACOT had a positive impact on the attitude of the students and was also able to modify the teachers teaching practices, enabling the learning process to be more cooperative whereby students learning was more of group work and less of teachers lecturing in class.
Apple (2002) has noted that when a comparison was done between ACOT students to their non-ACOT colleagues in the same high schools, the rate of absenteeism among the ACOT students was about half as compared to the rest of the school. The ACOT program run for five years without a single dropout; this was amidst the fact that the entire student body had faced a thirty percent dropout rate in the regular program. Apple has further argued that more students usually go through the complete high school education and join colleges if they are exposed to technological learning in their high school learning. Its worth noting that less than half of the ACOT students came to the program with the slightest interest of furthering their studies to college levels. In the schools that he studies took place the overall regular students who proceeded to college after high school was less than 15%. On the other hand a hundred percent of ACOT students graduated in their high school studies whereby more than 90% of them joined colleges for further studies. This is a clear indication that employment of technology in the learning of students plays a very significant role in their motivation (Apple, 2002).
In an attempt to encourage the usage of the West Virginia’s BS/CE program, Solomon Lewis in 1999 conducted a cost benefit analysis of the same as compared to the cost of the other programs for reform and their benefits. In this analysis he demonstrated that BS/CE was more effective in terms of cost and improvement of the students’ achievements than increase of instructional time, reduction of the class population from 35 students to 20 students and use of cross age programs of tutoring (Schacter, 1999).
The CEO Forum report (2001) identified several impacts that are derived from the application of technology in the learning of students: among the many impacts are:
An improvement in scores on standardized tests: A longitudinal research result of nationwide implementation of technology involving large scale integration of wholesome curriculum in West Virginia and Idaho has clearly showed corresponding boost in the scores of the test from across all the disciplines and subjects. The report has pointed out that in project explore students from New Jersey and Union City experienced a boost in mathematics standardized tests (CEO forum, 2001).
The CEO forum report (2001) also identified that the student’s ability to manage learning is increased with employment of technology in the learning of a student. There is a shift of the leaning environment that is brought about by the use of the technology in the students’ learning; from being teachers centered to student centered. Students are enabled to define their personal leaning objectives. This encourages the students to be more engaged in their process of education. The initiative also prays a very significant role of making students to take the ownership and responsibility of their education (Middleton, & Murray, 1999). The technology offers students with a wider variety of evaluation tools that will enable them to do self evaluation more frequently to gauge whether they are making any progress in terms of knowledge increment. By this they are bale to monitor their progress without necessarily waiting for the end of term tests from their teacher to know their progress.
The third finding that the CEO report noted was that the employment of technology in the learning process increases ability to promote achievement for the students with special needs. They had identified that there are several research studies that had been conducted offering evidence that the use of educational technology provides significant benefit for academic success of the special needs students. The writers of this report drew from SAT-1 performance four years study in which participant students partook in an integrated technology affluent curriculum. The results demonstrated the impact of the technology since the disabled students gained an average of 89 points in the math and verbal tests. They also identified that disabled students who made use of speech recognition software in essay composition had a higher performance than their fellow disabled learners without any assistance, they performed approximately we as the regular non-disabled students (CEO Forum, 2001).
The use of technology in almost all the spheres of life have played a significant role in improving production as well as facilitating the growth of the economy, health, and the general development. In education there have been some fears of whether bringing in technology in students learning will impact on the students’ learning. The study will be testing the hypothesis that technology has an impact on students learning and achievement.
For one to conceptualize whether the use of technology is of any impact in relation to enhancing student’s learning achievement, there are some two questions that are put forward that will help us to unearth the reality of this hypothesis. The questions include:
Is there any link between Technology application and Student Learning and Achievement?
Does the employment of technology facilitate to improved student’s learning?
According to Fraser, and Rose (1971), methods are systematic and serially organized approaches, which are focused on analysis of data so as to ensure that indispensable information is engendered from the collected data. He has further forwarded four major types of methods that are available to researchers. They include: Experimental Methods, Explicatory, Survey and Case-study.
In this research we shall employ the survey method where we shall review some of the studies that have been conducted relating the impact of technology on a students learning and achievement. In the survey we shall make use of secondary data to review the findings of various researchers combining them under this research so as to have a concrete understanding of the concept in question. The stepping stone (2004) website has described secondary data as information that has been gathered for other purposes than to complete a research project. In every field there is a wide variety of information that has been recorded by various stake holders in relation to the field. In our case there are many researches that have been conducted in the endeavor to identify whether there is any importance for educational institutions and other stake holders in education to employ technology in learning of students. Secondary sources of data are categorized into two major groups; internal sources and external sources. Internal sources also known as in-house data are the information acquired within an organization where a research is undertaken while an external data are information which are extracted from without the source. In this case our data is obtained from within and without hence both external and internal data are in use (Stepping Stone Partnership, 2004).
In order to raise a student’s achievement it’s imperative to equip the student with a solid and firm foundation of the basic skills as well as motivate them to learn. Technology can play an important role in facilitating the achievement of this goal. Technology engages students through firing of their imagination. Technology helps teachers to stimulate the minds of young learners in such a way that makes them to have profound and lasting transformation (Jonassen, Howland, Mara, & Crismond, 2006). There are numerous research studies that have been conducted on the impact of technology on the achievements of students in the learning process; the findings of these researches have demonstrated remarkable similarities of the results. This paper has done a review of the literatures on this concept and has revealed the following conclusions:
Learners, especially those who have some disadvantages in life (students with special needs), learn basic skills which include writing, reading and arithmetic faster and better if they get an opportunity to put the skills into practice through use of technology.
Technology manages to engage students; when students are using technology to learn, they tend to be hooked up to technology hence spending more time learning the basic tasks as opposed to the rest of the student who do not use technology (use more traditional methods).
Technology gives a teacher/ lecturer an opportunity to individualize the education curriculum and modify it so that it fits to the needs of an individual student; this helps the students to achieve their potential.
Students who gets opportunities to use technology are exposed to learning through technology portray an advanced level of learning comprehension and a higher likelihood of putting into practice what hey learn in their lives (Middleton, & Murray, 1999).
Through the exposure to technology in the learning process students are able to access a broader range of communication media in the expression of their ideas and in a more clear and powerful manner.
The exposure to technology makes students develop an attachment to education and learning and hence absenteeism and dropout rates are reduced to near zero. Students are motivated to further their studies and join colleges after graduating from high schools (Grabe, & Grabe, 2004).
The self esteem of students is amplified if they learn from technological exposure. When they manage to put into practice what they learn, they feel motivated to share that knowledge and seek further knowledge. They gain greater confidence and abilities in their approach to challenges (Jonassen, Howland, Mara, & Crismond, 2006).
Technology is here to stay. In the world that we live in almost all sectors have employed technology in the endeavor to improve their output; sure enough the benefits of technology are clear enough. In the education system there has been little progress in the employment of technology in students learning (Middleton, & Murray, 1999). The reason behind little application of technology has been lack of enough evidence to clarify whether technology if employed in the learning of students has any impact. There are contrasting views relating to this question. The various stake holders in education (educators, government, legislators, governors) have over time wondered whether investing in technology in institutions of learning is the most appropriate thing to do in the endeavor of improving the learning system. This paper has gathered information from various sources justifying that the employment of technology in the learning system has great positive impact on the learners learning process (McDonald, Ciereszko, Mizell, & Al Lever-Duffy, 2008).
According to the secondary data that have been gathered through literature review, the employment of technology in the learning process has immense impact in enhancing the learning of students. The studies conducted have identified that students who are exposed to technology in their daily leaning activities have an increased average performance in their standardized test as opposed to their peers who uses traditional methods to study. The studies have also identified that the students exposed to technology understands concepts more easily and are able to put into practice that which they learn (Grabe, & Grabe, 2004). Consequently their self esteem is boosted and they are able to do even better. Technology exposure makes students to develop more attachment to learning hence absenteeism and dropout rates are reduced. Learning becomes more independent and students spend more time studying, and even gaining wider knowledge.
In conclusion we can confidently support our hypothesis from many studies that have been conducted that technology application in the learning process impacts students learning process enhancing their achievements.
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