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December 2014

Students who used school-issued laptop computers at school and home perform better in their HSC science exams than those not given the computers, recent research from the University of Sydney has shown.

"While improvements are small to medium they are statistically significant, particularly in the context of highly competitive HSC exams where a margin of a few marks can affect a student's future at university or in the job market," said Simon Crook, a PhD candidate in the physics education research group at the University of Sydney and lead author of an article recently published in the International Journal of Science Education.

While there is widespread research on the impact of using laptops on students' motivation, there is a lack of research on their influence on academic achievement, especially for science. This study capitalised on a unique natural experiment created by the staged roll-out of the campaign, the Digital Education Revolution, in which only half of Year 9 NSW students in 2008 received laptops from their schools. In late 2011, when these students sat their HSC examinations half of them had been schooled with their own laptops for more than three years, and half had not. The research looked at the results of 967 science students from 12 high schools in Sydney, in HSC biology, chemistry and physics.

A paper, "An Evaluation of the Impact of 1:1 Laptops on Student Attainment in Senior High School Sciences', has been published in the International Journal of Science Education and also been featured in The Australian (subscribers only). Authors on the article are Simon Crook (lead), STL reseacher Associate Professor Manju Sharma from the School of Physics and Dr Rachel Wilson from the Faculty of Education and Social Work.

You can view the paper here.

Several of our researchers have submitted papers to this year's international Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning, CSCL. The conference will take place in Gothenburg, Sweden, from June 7th to 11th, 2015.

STL submissions include:

  • Paper: Inclusive Design for CSCL: The Case of Adult Literacy Learners. Author: Ana Pinto

  • Paper: How Collaborative Successes and Failures Become Productive: An Exploration of Emerging Understanding and Misunderstanding Turning Points in Model-based Learning with Productive Failure. Authors: Alisha Portolese, Lina Markauskaite, Polly Lai, Michael Jacobson

  • Paper: Socio-material Representation of Group Knowledge Creation. Author: Natalie Spence

  • Paper: Measuring group progress through a complex computer-supported design task: Identifying the effects of scaffolds on the processes of learning. Author: Kate Thompson

  • Symposium: A multimodal approach to the analysis of complex collaborative learning environments: Using complementary methods of analysis to synthesise new trends in scaffolding research

The above syposium is organised by Kate Thompson and Lucila Carvalho.

Synthesis research is a method utilized in the field of ecology, and involves bringing together experts in different areas to address a research question that cannot be entirely answered by a single perspective. This symposium explores the application of this model to the learning sciences, specifically to scaffolding of computer supported collaborative learning. The symposium brings together expert researchers (working on different, related perspectives of scaffolding) to discuss their analysis of processes of learning in relation to discursive psychology and gesture analysis; conversation analysis; and multimodal interaction analysis. Each presenter will analyze and discuss the same corpus of data. These streams of data analysis are then brought together in the fourth presentation, with a discussion of visualizing and synthesizing the findings, piecing together an elaborated understanding of scaffolding. The final presentation includes the whole panel and addresses some of the challenges of conducting research this way in the learning sciences.

Participants include:
  • Kate Thompson, Lucila Carvalho, The University of Sydney, CoCo Research Centre, The University of Sydney, Australia,

  • Michael A. Evans, Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Counselor Education, North Carolina State University,

  • Maryam Khosronejad, Peter Reimann, CoCo Research Centre, The University of Sydney, Australia, & Anindito Aditomo, CoCo Research Centre, The University of Sydney, Australia, and The University of Surabaya, Indonesia.

  • Dewa Wardak, Peter Goodyear, CoCo Research Centre, The University of Sydney, Australia,

  • Yannis Dimitriadis, Universidad de Valladolid, Valladolid, Spain,, Roberto Martinez-Maldonado, CoCo Research Centre, The University of Sydney, Australia, & Gregory Dyke, ICAR, University of Lyon/CNRS, France,


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Research by the University's Centre for Research on Learning and Innovation (CRLI).