New Evidence on Classroom Computers and Pupil Learning
The question of how technology affects learning has been at the center of recent debates over educational inputs. In 1994, the Israeli State Lottery sponsored the installation of computers in many elementary and middle schools. This program provides an opportunity to estimate the impact of computerization on both the instructional use of computers and on pupils' test scores. Results from a survey of Israeli school-teachers show that the influx of new computers increased teachers' use of computer-aided instruction (CAI) in the 4th grade, with a smaller effect on CAI in 8th grade. CAI does not appear to have had educational benefits that translated into higher test scores. Results for 4th graders show sharply lower Math scores in the group that was awarded computers, with smaller (insignificant) negative effects on verbal scores. Results for 8th graders' test scores are very imprecise, probably reflecting the much weaker first-stage relationship between program funding and the use of CAI in 8th grade. The estimates for 8th grade Math scores are also negative, however.