Academic Literature

The Digital Divide / The largest-ever field experiment on the effects of home computers on academic achievement finds no effects

Computers are an important part of modern education, yet many schoolchildren lack access to a computer at home » write Robert W. Fairlie and Jonathan Robinson in Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Home Computers on Academic Achievement among Schoolchildren (Adapted chosen excerpts by Job Market Monitor to follow).

In the United States, schools spend more than $5 billion per year on computers and information technology, while the federal government spends another $2 billion per year on the E-rate program, which provides discounts to low-income schools and libraries. A large share of these expenditures goes towards in-school computing, and consequently access to computers in school is ubiquitous. In contrast, many children do not have access to a computer at home: nearly 9 million children ages 10-17 in the United States (27 percent) do not have computers with Internet connections at home.

How important is this disparity in access to home computing to the educational achievement of schoolchildren, especially given the pervasiveness of computers in the U.S. classroom?

Only a few studies have examined this question, and there is no consensus in this literature on even whether the effects of home computers are positive or negative.

The author test whether this impedes educational achievement by conducting the largest-ever field experiment that randomly provides free home computers to students. Although computer ownership and use increased substantially, they find no effects on any educational outcomes, including grades, test scores, credits earned, attendance and disciplinary actions. Their estimates are precise enough to rule out even modestly-sized positive or negative impacts. The estimated null effect is consistent with survey evidence showing no change in homework time or other “intermediate” inputs in education.

Full Article @: Capture d’écran 2013-05-26 à 10.57.14


6 thoughts on “The Digital Divide / The largest-ever field experiment on the effects of home computers on academic achievement finds no effects

  1. Reblogged this on This Got My Attention and commented:
    Government wasting more money on subsidies for computers at home. Research shows spending on computers for home use does not improve educational outcomes including grades. Read the research yourself if you like.

    Posted by Mike | May 26, 2013, 12:49 pm
  2. Reblogged this on bearspawprint and commented:
    hahaha But in most cases assignments can no longer done without computers. Term paper and other research even have different forms and reference notations than in the “olden” before computer days. After about grade 6, now, gotta have ’em. And for homeschoolers, they are essential. Whether I like it or not.—Bear

    Posted by bearspawprint | May 26, 2013, 8:07 pm
  3. Not surprised as a teacher it’s your job to be inclusive, make sure all your learners have access to the resources they need to complete their work via class, handouts, in school IT facilities etc home computers have to be the optional extra

    Posted by Tina | May 27, 2013, 7:15 am

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