“digital use in elementary schools : what effects on pupils ? what effects on teachers ?

Scientific director : Sophie Morlaix (IREDU)

Researchers :  Amélie Duguet (IREDU), Lucie Corbin, Séverine Millotte (LEAD), Nathalie Cartierre, Lucie Finez, Marie Françoise Lacassagne, Florent Mangin (Psy-DREPI)

Summary : 

For several years now, the political authorities in France have been investing in digital technologies as an instrument for combating school failure. It is sometimes assumed that ICTE (Information and Communication Technologies in Education) significantly improve the quality of education by modifying and facilitating the learning conditions of pupils.The skills linked to digital tools could play a central role in the conditions of learning and ultimately reduce inequalities. However, research in the field shows relatively ambiguous effects of the use of new technologies (digital tablets, interactive whiteboards, etc.) on student learning (Michko, 2007). Russel’s (2001) review of 355 research reports on the effectiveness of ICTE tends to validate the ‘no significant difference’ thesis. In other words, there is no real proof of better learning effectiveness thanks to technology (Chaptal, 2008).

A Côte d’Or municipality of about 15,000 inhabitants, which has made a massive investment to equip its elementary schools with digital tools (interactive whiteboards and mobile classrooms in particular), wanted to evaluate the effectiveness of this investment and to know the added value brought to pupils and teachers by this new digital equipment. This is why it called on a multidisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Burgundy[1], and an innovative research project was then launched over several years (2016-2019) to answer various questions: What representations do the various actors (students and teachers) have of these tools? How do these representations and perceptions vary? Does the introduction of a digital mediator in the student-teacher relationship change the social relationships within the classroom or outside it? Does the use of digital technology facilitate learning? Does it have an impact on more cross-curricular aspects such as motivation and the well-being of pupils? Can we observe differentiated effects of digital technology according to the characteristics of the pupils?

Without going into the detailed methodology of the project, a number of measurement tools were developed to address the various issues. In total, about 1000 pupils and 40 teachers were monitored during one school year. Three types of results emerge. The first relate to the use of digital technology and learning, the second relate to the effects of digital technology on the well-being of pupils, and the third relate to representations and changes in social relations between actors following the introduction of digital technology.

7 teacher-researchers from IREDU (Educational Research Institute), LEAD (Laboratory for the Study of Learning and Development) and Psy-DREPI (Laboratory of Psychology: Relational Dynamics and Identity Processes) formed the multi-disciplinary project team.

View Posts