Do Computers Harm School Performance?

from the fun-with-statistics dept

A study that showed that students who used computers more often did better has been re-interpreted to show that computer use may harm performance. Sound sketchy enough? Basically, it sounds like the stats were re-analyzed, taking into account the fact that more affluent students often had access to computers, and somehow tried to correct for that. When they normalized for that, they found that computer use could do harm to performance. Of course, that somehow seems to assume that more affluent students are somehow naturally smarter. This “re-interpretation” certainly raises a bunch of questions — but mostly about the method of the interpretation of the data. I’m sure someone else could go through the data and prove something completely different. The real issue is that computers are simply a tool — and one that educational institutions are still trying to figure out. The real focus should be looking not at the aggregate data, but figuring out how computers can help certain students in specific situations — and others where it may be harmful. Wild generalizations on either side are likely to be mostly useless.

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Comments on “Do Computers Harm School Performance?”

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Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

3 Kinds of Untruth, Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

“They say 3% of the people use 5-6% of their brain.
97% use just 3% and the rest goes down the drain.
I’ll never know which one I am, but I’ll bet you my last dime.
99% think with 3%, 100% of the time.

65% of all statistics are made up right there on the spot.
84.4% of people believe them whether they are accurate statistics or not.
I’ll never know what you believe, but I do know there’s no doubt
I need another double shot of something 90 proof, I’ve got too much to think about.”

from Todd Snider’s Statistician’s Blues

thecaptain says:

I buy it.

This sort of makes sense but not in a “computers are bad” kinda way but more in the “if you never have to think, you’ll never be intelligent” way.

Think about it. Kids who constantly use calculators are usually much worse at doing maths without computational aids. Most people I know who use speed dial are incapable of remembering close friends’ phone numbers.

Why should it be any different with computers? If you have all the facts you need instantly, then all you need to know is how to look, not what the facts are.

The downside is that when you are sans-computer you can’t get anything done.

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