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Promising Practices: A Literature Review of Technology Use by Underserved Students

This report summarizes research findings about the conditions and practices that support positive outcomes of technology use for underserved, under-resourced, and underprepared students.
Author(s): 
Molly B. Zielezinski
Linda Darling-Hammond
Author(s) Organizational Affiliation: 
Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education
Published: 
2016
Resource Type: 
Product
Number of Pages: 
27
Product Type: 
Abstract: 

This literature review summarizes research findings about the conditions and practices that support positive outcomes of technology use for underserved, under-resourced, and underprepared K-12 students.

In regard to technology, the authors found that:

  1. Underserved students benefit from opportunities to learn that include one-to-one access to devices.
  2. High-speed Internet access is needed to prevent user issues when implementing digital learning.
  3. Underserved students benefit from technology interactions designed to promote high levels of interactivity and emphasize discovery.
  4. Successful digital learning environments are characterized by the right blend of teachers and technology.

 With regard to the conditions and practices that support learning by underserved students, they found that:

  1. Underserved students benefit from learning activities that focus on the development of higher order thinking skills.
  2. Underserved students benefit from learning activities that draw on culture and community.
  3. Underserved students benefit from learning activities that provide them with opportunities to drive their own learning.
What the Experts Say: 

Although this is a literature review of recent studies from 2003-2013 of technology use by students in grades 6-12, the findings are highly relevant to adult basic skills education, including English for immigrants. All four key findings concerning access to technology are pertinent, as are the three key findings related to the conditions and practices that support learning for students.

Underserved, at-risk students are generally more difficult to retain. Knowing how to engage them through technology is of great use to programs. The value of the resource to adult educators is twofold: (1) programs that adopt the recommendations have a solid research foundation to support their practices through grants and other funding sources, and (2) programs can adopt technology practices that have clearly been shown to work and to retain undeserved students hoping to succeed in further education and training environments leading to higher degrees or better jobs.

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