Kids, computers, books
JUNE 19, 2010
The National Bureau of Economic Research has begun circulating a report on what seems to be the largest study yet of what happens when you give a kid a computer. The news is not good, as has been reported in the last few days by David Wessel at the Wall Street Journal and by the Freakonomics crew at the New York Times.
The study, conducted by Jacob Vigdor and Helen Ladd at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy, examined extensive data on all public school students in North Carolina between 2000 and 2005 (the data include students’ end-of-year exam scores in math and reading as well as information on how the students spend their time at home). Those years, as the authors note, were a time when home computer use and broadband access were both expanding rapidly. The focus of the research was on students in Grade 5 through Grade 8. The authors write:
The larger sample size available with administrative data – over half a million student/year observations – addresses one common concern with existing studies of the impact of home computer use: low power associated with small sample sizes. The longitudinal nature of the data also permit us to address concerns that students with computer access are a non-random sample of the population by comparing the test scores of students before and after they report gaining access to a home computer, or before and after their local area receives high-speed internet service.
The analysis reveals that home computers have “modest but statistically significant negative impacts” on academic performance as measured by math and reading test scores. In addition: “The introduction of high-speed internet service is similarly associated with significantly lower math and reading test scores in the middle grades.” Worse yet, “the introduction of broadband internet is associated with widening racial and socioeconomic achievement gaps.” Attempts to close the “digital divide” by, for example, subsidizing PC purchases may actually end up widening the divide between rich and poor in academic performance.
The authors are careful to note that there may be gains in other skills related to internet access in the home:
While we find no evidence that this access improves math and reading scores, it is possible that computer and internet access improves important skills that are not directly measured by standardized tests in math or reading. These skills, ranging from the ability to use basic office software to advanced programming or hardware maintenance skills, may be of considerable value in the labor market. While subsidies for home computer or internet access could still be advocated on the grounds that they improve these vocational skills, our results suggest that an additional consequence would be lower math and reading test scores, and wider test score gaps.
Previous studies have shown that students with home computers on average do better academically than students without computers. But that, according to the Vigdor/Ladd study, appears to reflect correlation rather than causation. A home computer is an indicator of general socio-economic advantages, many of which can contribute to relatively strong academic performance. When you look specifically at changes in the performance of individual students over time, Vigdor and Ladd write, “there is no evidence that home computer access improves test scores.” In fact:
Students who obtain access to a home computer sometime between 5th and 8th grade tend to score between 1% and 1.3% of a standard deviation lower on their subsequent math and reading tests. The positive cross-sectional association between home computer ownership and test scores thus reflects the digital divide: those who own computers are in general a positively selected group … Students in ZIP codes that transition from no broadband service to limited service from three or fewer providers post a statistically significant decline in math test scores. The estimated decline is a relatively strong 2.6% of a standard deviation. The impact on reading test scores is more modest and statistically insignificant. Students in ZIP codes that move beyond the four ISP threshold also exhibit modest declines in test scores. The effects are statistically significant, equivalent to 1.4% of a standard deviation in math and 1.6% of a standard deviation in reading.
Comments Vigdor on his blog: “It turns out that access to computers and broadband is, on balance, not good for kids. This is not a super-surprise for those who have followed earlier careful studies on the subject.” In the paper, he and Ladd conclude, “For school administrators interested in maximizing achievement test scores, or reducing racial and socioeconomic disparities in test scores, all evidence suggests that a program of broadening home computer access would be counterproductive.”
As the Freakonomics writers point out, the study is consistent with an earlier study that examined the effects of giving Romanian students access to computers. That study found that “having a computer at home helps kids develop computer skills … But it seems to lower their grades in math and reading.”
Vigdor and Hamm note that the negative consequences of computer use could be tempered if students began to use computers more for homework and less for goofing off. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence that that’s happening. Indeed, as Vigdor points out, “We cut off the study in 2005, so we weren’t getting into the Facebook and Twitter generation.” The opportunities to goof off with computers have expanded rapidly in recent years (and that doesn’t even take into account the explosion of texting on phones). There’s nothing wrong with kids goofing off, of course; what seems to be happening, though, is that the growing amount of time dedicated to goofing off on computers and the net is crowding out time that might otherwise go to studying (or requiring more multitasking while studying).
It is interesting to compare the computer and internet research with new studies which indicate that having books in a home may strengthen children’s academic achievement. One of the studies, published in the journal Research in Social Stratification and Mobility, reveals a strong connection between the number of books in a student’s home and the number of years of education the student completes – and the relationship seems to be more than just a matter of general socio-economic advantages. As the Chronicle of Higher Educationreported:
What’s surprising … is just how strong the correlation is between a child’s academic achievement and the number of books his or her parents own. It’s even more important than whether the parents went to college or hold white-collar jobs. Books matter. A lot.
The study was conducted over 20 years, in 27 countries, and surveyed more than 70,000 people. Researchers found that children who grew up in a home with more than 500 books spent 3 years longer in school than children whose parents had only a few books. Also, a child whose parents have lots of books is nearly 20-percent more likely to finish college. For comparison purposes, the children of educated parents (defined as people with at least 15 years of schooling) were 16-percent more likely than the children of less-educated parents to get their college degrees. Formal education matters, but not as much as books.
The authors of the study conclude:
Thus it seems that scholarly culture, and the taste for books that it brings, flows from generation to generation largely of its own accord, little affected by education, occupational status, or other aspects of class … Parents give their infants toy books to play with in the bath; read stories to little children at bed-time; give books as presents to older children; talk, explain, imagine, fantasize, and play with words unceasingly. Their children get a taste for all this, learn the words, master the skills, buy the books. And that pays off handsomely in schools.
The other study, to be published later this year, also indicates a strong connection between having books at home and performing well in school, particularly for low-income students. As Salon’s Laura Miller reported, the study “found that simply giving low-income children 12 books (of their own choosing) on the first day of summer vacation ‘may be as effective as summer school’ in preventing ‘summer slide’ – the degree to which lower-income students slip behind their more affluent peers academically every year.”
We need to be concerned about the digital divide, to be sure. But perhaps we should also be thinking about the Gutenberg divide.
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This resonates with my personal observation and views.
In fact, in my view books should be visible and easy to access. My 8 year old son is picking up old magazines and reading full articles.
I wonder how this experience will be replicated in the e-book reader era.
Posted by: Murali Vasudevan at June 20, 2010 02:02 AM
Larry Cuban, professor of education at Stanford University, has documented how U.S. education policymakers have careened from one new technology to the next – lantern slides, tape recorders, movies, radios, overhead projectors, reading kits, language laboratories, televisions, computers, multimedia, and now the Internet – sure each time that thay have discovered educational gold. eventually, the glimmer always fades, and we find ourselves holding a lump of pyrite – fool’s gold. (quoted from Alliance for Childhood. Fool’s Gold. A Critical Look at Computer in Childhood. 2001)
Posted by: Ivo Quartiroli at June 20, 2010 03:40 AM
This research reminds me of a story about IQ tests. There was a broad study done here (I don’t have the literature to quote handy but I could look for it if the need arises) to compare the IQ levels of rural and urban children. Somewhat expected, children in rural areas got a much lower score than their urban counterparts. So what could cause such great “retardation” of the rural children. Was it the lack of books? Water?
No, as it turns out the IQ test were designed by people from cities and they implicitly assumed a set skills needed, which the people from rural areas lacked.
Which brings me to this – perhaps the reason children with computers score lower is that test don’t test for much computer related skills, but instead they test more book related skills?
Posted by: Daniel Fath at June 20, 2010 04:38 AM
It does not matter whether you give a child a computer or a ball. If you give it something else to do other than studying, his academic results are going to get worse. On the other side, given the fact that many brilliant people had very poor academic performance, maybe is not that bad that kids are no longer interested in that outdated ideas that the elders try to teach them at the classroom.
Hazard Version 의 Install Instruction 입니다.
– 우선, 이 Hazard 버전은 굉장히 잘 만들어진 녀석인데 부팅이 힘들다. 그래서 내가 쓴 방법은 iATKOS S3 V2 버전을 미리 깔아놓고, 구워놓은 Hazard 를 디비디롬에 집어넣고 마운트시킨후, 유틸리티 관리자에서 이 마운트된 디비디를 500 기가 WD 하드 중 10기가를 잘라 InstallPart 라는 파티션을 만든후 그 곳에 “복원” 을 시켜버렸다.
복원을 시키자, 그 디비디롬의 모든 화일이 그대로 하드로 옮겨져 갔다. 이걸 하는 이유는 다음과 같다.
1. 그냥 디비디롬으로 하면 부팅이 안된다. 카멜레온에서 -v -x -f 옵션 줘도 화면에 별다른 정보없이 바로 무한 부팅 들어간다.
2. 인스톨 자체가 훨씬 빠르다. 한번 InstallPart 라는 파티션 만들어놓으면 두고두고 재설치할때 빠르고 간편하게 할수 있다.
3. 설치전이나 설치후 켁스트들이나 다른 화일들을 삭제하거나 교환, 더할수 있다. 디비디에서는 쓰기가 불가능하니까 안된다.
+ 설치 방법 +
1. InstallPart 하드 이미지를 더블클릭하면 파인더에 아무화면도 없다. 커맨드+쉬프트+G를 누르면 디렉토리로 바로갈수 있는 창이 뜬다. System 을 입력한다.
2. Installation -> Package 디렉으로 이동
3. OSInstall.mpkg 를 선택! (주의!! mpkg 임. 그냥 pkg 아님!)
4. 하드 골라주고… 그 다음은 사용자화!
– 10.6.1 & 10.6.2 패치 골라주고
– 커널은 Legacy_Kernel 골라주고
– 그래픽 드라이버에서 GraphicEnabler 골라주고
– 오디오는 ALC888b (설명에 기가보드를 위한거라고 되어있어서) (근데 안되도 상관없음)
– 네트워크는 리얼텍 8169 골라주고
– System Support -> AppleUpstreamUserClientDiasbler 골라주고
– AMD 패치, 추가폰트, X11, Roseta, QuickTime 골라주고 마무리~
이대로 부팅하면 에러가 난다. 에러가 나는 부분은 바로 IOATAFamily 다.
인스톨한 하드로 가서 System – Library – Extension 으로 가서 이 IOATAFamily.kext 를 지워버리자!
권한복구? 돌릴수 있음 좋구~
그리고 부팅하면 부팅시 바이오스에서 에러가 났다고 한다. 그러면 그냥 선택되어져 있는 “가장 최근 성공적으로 부팅한 설정으로 부팅” 을 골라준다. 아마 이건 DSDT 가 바이오스를 속이는 과정에서 이렇게 되는것 같다. 여기서 바이오스 건드리면 아웃이다. 바이오스는 건드리지 말자. -_-;;
그러면 부팅끝~ 마우스 더 이상 버벅거리지 않는 Hazard 시스템이 설치되어 있다!!