Is Technology the Answer? Investigating Students' Achievement and Engagement in Mathematics
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With millions invested in educational technology, what is its impact on student achievement and engagement? This question formed the basis for a review of the current literature on the impact of iPads and other instructional technology on student academic growth and motivation in public schools. The research supports technology’s positive impact on student achievement and engagement, but more research is needed in order to better understand how iPad use impacts students in the early elementary mathematics classroom. This dissertation study examines the effects of an iPad-based math intervention, as compared to a traditional paper-pencil approach, on second graders’ achievement and engagement in mathematics. The students were assigned to treatment and control groups in matched pairs based on sex and pre-test scores. Then students engaged in a four-week math intervention, using either the iPad or paper-pencil. At the end of each intervention, students completed quantitative posttests given by their classroom teachers. Students then switched treatment and control groups for a second four-week math intervention. Quantitative pre-post assessments include Bridges math unit tests, easyCBM math tests, and a Likert-scale engagement measure. After the two interventions were completed, qualitative focus group data were collected from the teachers involved in the study, giving a more complete view of student engagement. With finite intervention time and resources, schools need to know how to best improve student achievement and engagement in mathematics. This study fills a documented research gap and will help inform school decisions regarding instructional technology in the early elementary math classroom.