Learning with Laptops: Implementation and Outcomes in an Urban, Under-Privileged School

Summer 2008

Source: Journal of Research on Technology in Education. Volume 40, Issue 4; Summer 2008. p. 447- 473
(Reviewed by The Portal Team)

This study examined the implementation and outcomes of a laptop program initiative in a predominantly low-income, minority school. Specifically, the study examines the ways in which two primary grade teachers integrated laptops in their instructional practices and the impact of such integration on student educational experiences compared to non-laptop peers in the same school. Three primary questions guided this research:

1. During a one-year period (2002-2003), in what ways did teachers and students utilize laptop computers in their classrooms to achieve instructional goals?

2. How did access to laptops influence student attitudes toward computers and school compared to their non-laptop peers?

3. How did student use of laptop computers support learning processes?

Both quantitative and qualitative data were collected, analyzed, and compared with students in non-laptop classrooms within the same school.

Results of the study revealed that in the hands of well prepared teachers, laptops enabled disadvantaged students to engage in powerful learning experiences. Although quantitative data did not reveal significant differences in student attitudes towards computers and school between laptop and comparison students, qualitative data indicated that laptop integration created enhanced motivation and engagement with schoolwork, influenced classroom interactions, and empowered students. Such behaviors were not evident among comparison students.
Furthermore, qualitative data indicated that the laptop program produced academic gains in writing and mathematics within the laptop group.
Results of the study have implications for policy makers, researchers, and practitioners, especially those interested in bridging the digital divide in education.

Updated: Nov. 02, 2008