One-to-one laptop initiatives (sometimes abbreviated as 1:1) aim to give each student access to the Internet, digital course materials, and digital books. The number of these programs has steadily increased, but are they contributing toward improved educational outcomes?
A study by researchers from Michigan State University and the University of California, Irvine has found that one-to-one laptop initiatives have positive effects on students. The study, “Learning in One-to-One Laptop Environments: A Meta-Analysis and Research Synthesis,”reviewed 96 journal articles and doctoral dissertations published from 2001 to 2015 to understand the effects of one-to-one laptop programs in K-12 schools. Of those papers, researchers conducted a meta-analysis of 10 studies and found that the one-to-one programs improved students’ test scores by .16 standard deviations, a statistically significant number, in English, writing, mathematics and science, according to EdWeek.
Though the study found that laptop programs increase student test scores, it also noted that traditional interventions like small class sizes or individual tutoring made larger positive impacts on students, EdWeek reports. Because of the small sample size, the researchers also urged readers to not to view the results as definitive, rather as a positive first step. The research excluded other types of one-to-one initiatives such as iPads.
In addition, the researchers reviewed 85 other studies on the effects these programs that do not deal with test scores. They found, among their “generally positive findings,” that one-to-one initiatives increased the frequency and breadth of students’ technology use and enhanced student engagement and motivation.