An Economics Major Asks, Are Laptops in Maine Schools Helping Students?
七年后, the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) was expanded to give high school students laptops of their own. The idea was to “leverage technology to improve student learning experiences” and to ensure that all students, 不管他们的家庭收入如何, 可以使用电脑.
But after spending millions of dollars on the initiative — it costs taxpayers roughly $11.5 million a year and is the largest of its kind in the country — some elected officials began to voice doubt about the program. 政府. 共和党人保罗·勒佩奇(Paul LePage)将其描述为“巨大的失败”.” The program’s critics noted that Maine students’ test scores had not seemed to improve, 例如.
The program, and the controversy around it, piqued the interest of economics major Eric Giesler ’18. He wanted also to apply the knowledge and skills he had learned in a class he took with Bowdoin economics professor John 菲茨杰拉德. 这门课, 公共项目的经济评估, teaches students how to measure the effectiveness of government programs, 比如启航, 职业培训, 住房券.
Giesler said he is also interested in educational inequity and studying the effects of technology introduced into schools. “And I saw there was kind of a hole in the quantitative analysis on the effectiveness of the MLTI program.” Giesler warned that existing studies are “plagued with biases” and that “policymakers are making decisions on whether to pursue education technology based on studies that have issues with internal validity.” He was determined to develop a study of the Maine initiative that would avoid these problems.
菲茨杰拉德, 谁是吉斯勒的顾问, said that his student’s honors project is “significant because existing evidence is mixed about whether computers in the classroom produce achievement gains.”
在研究过程的早期, Giesler reached out to the Maine Department of Education to gather data about the high schools that opted into the laptop initiative in 2009 and the one that did not. That left him with 46 schools in the initiative and 53 that are not. The fact that some schools had opted in and not others created a “natural experiment” that offers rich opportunities for analysis. 他特意收集了2006年至2013年的统计数据, allowing him to analyze data three years before the laptops were introduced and three years after their implementation.
他的目标, 他说, was to understand the relationship between the MLTI and educational outcomes — while paying attention to other important variables. He not only looked at scores from a statewide standardized test given to eleventh graders, 被称为缅因州高中评估, 但也考虑了出勤率, 免费和减价午餐, 教师的平均工资.
Giesler’s findings indicate that Maine’s laptop program has had little or no impact on student test scores in math, 阅读, 或写. Instead, he found that teacher salaries have a stronger positive correlation with test scores. 但他补充说，这并不一定意味着两者之间存在直接联系. “I am cautious about this finding because teacher salaries might be a proxy for a school’s overall resources,他说. “可能还有其他原因.”
吉斯勒在解释他的发现时非常谨慎. Despite determining that the MLTI has had no bearing on academic achievement scores, 吉斯勒对是否建议取消该计划犹豫不决, 他说. “While my findings consistently demonstrate that the MLTI has no effect on the Maine High school Assessment, 这并不一定意味着这个项目没有效果.“首先, the standardized high school test might not be the best way to measure student ability, 他说. And it likely increases students’ technological literacy, a skill that helps them beyond high school. “The MLTI could enhance the academic ability of students in other ways even if they didn’t show up on the test,他说.
他还建议，如果缅因州要保留这个项目, 政府应该加大对教师的投资, 教他们使用笔记本电脑的最佳策略, 以及交互式教育软件, 在他们的教室里. “A number of teachers have voiced frustration with the lack of professional development,他说. “They know there are good websites and tools, but they don’t know where to find them.”
从全球官网电子游戏毕业后, 吉斯勒将在明尼阿波利斯的Piper Jaffray开始一份工作, 开展医疗保健投资. He said he suspects that both the time management and statistical analysis skills he developed this past year will serve him in his new job.
Pursuing an independent research project for one year at Bowdoin was gratifying, he noted. “你每个学期都上课，然后离开教室. 有一个荣誉项目, 你得从头到尾做一件事, 这是你在其他课上很少做的吗. I’ll have this project for the rest of my life, and I think that’s pretty special.“