Further research challenges the value of computers in lessons

Following the OECD report earlier in the week, the TES is now reporting a study from Scotland questioning the use of computers and technology in schools.

The latest research, conducted by Tom Macintyre of the University of Edinburgh, suggests that this shows that schools do not think carefully enough about how best to incorporate computers into lessons…

Dr Macintyre examined data of nearly 7,000 Scottish 10-year-olds and 14-year-olds, drawn from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study.

His findings, presented today at the annual British Educational Research Association conference, showed that those 10-year-olds who often used computers during maths lessons scored significantly worse than those whose lessons never involved computers.

Among the 14-year-olds, those who often used a computer for maths schoolwork both in and out of school scored significantly worse in maths than those who did not use computers.

Dr Macintyre, who often visits schools to assess student teachers, said: “It’s what people do with the technology that matters…”

Dr Macintyre also found that the use of computer technology in science lessons had a similar effect on pupils’ scores in science tests…

More at: Research strikes another blow to computer use in lessons


See also: Why access to computers won’t automatically boost children’s grades


So we now have two reports in a week suggesting the use of computers in schools – or at least the way computers are used in schools – might be counterproductive.

With so much money being spent on technology, is some serious re-thinking required here?

What, for example, if it was instead spent on teachers and teacher development as Professor Steve Higgins suggests in an article today?

Please give us your reactions in the comments or via Twitter…


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Categories: Research, Teaching and Technology.


  1. thelearnmaker

    SchoolsImprove PeoplePensPaper due to direction of use, TS seeing as a cureall and using wksheet style apps-keep Ss looking busy

  2. thelearnmaker

    SchoolsImprove PeoplePensPaper TS need to know their skills are more valuable in creating content rather than finding “an app for…”

  3. PeoplePensPaper

    thelearnmaker SchoolsImprove yes, I think there’s a lot of that James. I think can tech can be useful, but for many it’s an issue of speed

  4. ‘It’s what people do with the technology that matters…’.   It would be a pity if these reports were used to prevent any use of technology in teaching or to support ‘traditional’ chalk-and-talk (aka ‘Chinese’ or ‘Shanghai’ methods).

  5. LondonAcorn

    SchoolsImprove It is the unplanned application of ICT that really is the problem. We need to see beyond the words of ICT marketing depts.

  6. goodatenglish

    SchoolsImprove It might well be that the tests don’t cover the skills learned with computers. Inappropriate tests could be the cause.

  7. cbokhove

    SchoolsImprove tes on the latest technology study: note this must be TIMSS 2007 data because in 2011 Scotland did not participate

  8. ded6ajd

    SchoolsImprove SalfordsHead But what were they doing on the computers? & research might say more about the tests than -ve computer effects

  9. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Two things: used appropriately computers are good; until exams are done on computer then pen will be mightier than keyboard

Let us know what you think...