Computer Technology in Education: Evidence from a Pooled Study of Computer Assisted Learning Programs among Rural Students in China

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China Economic Review


china economic rev

There is a great degree of heterogeneity among the studies that investigate whether computer technologies improve education and how students benefit from them – if at all. The overall goal of this study is to assess the effectiveness of computing technologies to raise educational performance and non-cognitive outcomes and identify what program components are most effective in doing so. To achieve this aim we pool the data sets of five separate studies about computer technology programs that include observations of 16,856 students from 171 primary schools across three provinces in China. We find that overall computing technologies have positive and significant impacts on student academic achievement in both math and in Chinese. The programs are found to be more effective if they are implemented out-of-school, avoiding what appear to be substitution effects when programs are run during school. The programs also have heterogeneous effects by gender. Specifically, boys gain more than girls in Chinese. We did not find heterogeneous effects by student initial achievement levels. We also found that the programs that help students learn math—but not Chinese—have positive impacts on student self-efficacy.

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