Do Children Achieve Better Results In Tests On Computers

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In the last 10-15 years computers have become more and more prominent in the day-to-day life of humans. They are used in nearly every walk of life these days including the home, work and schools. Computers are used more at Secondary Schools than Primary Schools. The aim of my project is to research and conclude if using Computers, Key Stage 1 students would achieve better results in tests than doing the currently widely used handwritten tests.

This is an issue for Primary Schools because it makes them more behind in computer technology than they actually need to be. Through the use of computerised testing systems, results can be automatically calculated and given to students on the same day, meaning that a more focused approach can be given towards planning the lessons for the students rather than teachers having to spend a major part of their time marking the tests. For example, having the results the moment the test is completed, will give the teacher greater accessibility to plan a lesson for the next few days, that can recap the things that children have been struggling with in the test.

Another positive is that it gets children using computers for things other than Cee Bee Bee's and general small educational games. Using focused systems that are aimed towards a child their age, but still using the standard navigation and way of communicating with a computer can be beneficial for each child because when they advance on to higher education they will already have a basic knowledge of computers and how they are to be used in a more adult way of life.

The main positive that should be drawn from the testing to be incremented is that children may find it easier to complete a test that is computerised to one that is handwritten. This could be the case, because handwriting is widely associated with tests and school work, which could be related to some issues with why some children may not do as well as they have the potential to do. By using computerised tests, children will be able to automatically find out how well they have done, which may also give them the drive to do better next time, almost like a computer game that they would play at home.

The plan to go ahead and test the above is to contact the school it will be conducted in (New Invention Infants School) and ask them to forward a test that is handwritten in normal circumstances. This will then be adapted into a computerised testing system that is easily accessible for students of the age the experiment is to be conducted with (Age 5-8), and then to get half of a class to do the test handwritten, and half the class to do the same test on a computer. The results will then be collated into an average, to find out which the students have done better in. The result hoped for is that children will do better in a computerised test, because computers are more associated to fun for children than handwriting is.

Other similar tests conducted are normally based around Secondary School students, so the reason this test is being done is to add to the knowledge that is already there on this subject. Experiments that have been conducted so far are hit and miss, and this test is being done to try and provide a conclusive answer to the question asked.

Literature Review (3750 Words)

Children enjoy using computers at home to play games, create documents and surf the Internet, but would Key Stage 1 students learn and achieve more from using Computers to complete multiple-choice tests? Experiments have been conducted in similar fields, not always with Key Stage 1 students, to see if, what and how Children can learn from using Computers.

In the article, Changing How and What Children Learn In School, it is discussed how computer-based technology can be used to educate children in school. Learning with Computers could and could not improve a child's education. A positive way this could be done was shown in a major experiment in the USA where it was shown that "some approaches to using educational technology were found to increase fourth- and eighth-grade students' mathematical understanding, while others proved less effective" (Roschelle, 2001, 1-).

While this does draw a positive, it seems that there could be issues too. There a few issues that could be detrimental to the use of this form of education.

"First, hardware and software vary among schools, and there is even greater variation in the ways schools use technology, so the failure to produce uniform results is not surprising. Second, successful use of technology is always accompanied by concurrent reforms in other areas such as curriculum, assessment, and teacher professional development, so the gains in learning cannot be attributed to use of technology alone. And third, rigorously structured longitudinal studies that document the isolated effects of technology are expensive and difficult to implement, so few have been conducted." (Roschelle, 2001, 1-)

This quote shows that hardware and software issues could become a big issue in computational learning in the school environment. Although there are positive results from using computer-technology in educating children, the exact same hardware and software would need to be installed in all schools in the country to be able to promise that all schools would be able to use the technology if it became readily available and part of the curriculum. The next issue stated shows that the constant changes in the National Curriculum means that the use of computers alone is not enough to educate children. Also, if the curriculum changes, this will mean a revised version of each system that has changed will need to be issued, which could become costly to the state and schools alike.

Experiments have shown that children learn best through interaction and doing things themselves constructively rather than just answering questions and watching/listening to what a teacher is telling them. Indeed it is seen that when students are taking notes from a teacher and then are asked questions, they do not achieve as well as when they have learnt from interacting with the subject matter. That said, children achieve differently from different ways of learning, because they all have the ability to learn better in a different way. It seems that "educational reformers appear to agree with the theoreticians and experts that to enhance learning, more attention should be given to actively engaging children in the learning process." (Roschelle, 2001, 1-) This brings back around the use of Computers. Computers are a great way of implementing a way of getting children to interact with the subject, and teach themselves a little rather than have to listen to what a teacher is telling them.

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