Pencils Down!

Ben Drago

With the return of in person learning for the 2021-2022 school year, the need for technology has begun to dwindle. An anonymous survey was conducted which polled 103 Pottsgrove High School students on their thoughts on technology within the classroom. Overall, 22% of the respondents are Freshmen, 30% are Sophomores, 29% are Juniors, and 18% are Seniors. The fairly even split between grade levels presents a random sample of the high school as a whole. The intent of the survey was to gauge the level of dependence students have on technology and how much they utilize it in the post-Covid world. It is also important to note that students are coming off the most technologically advanced year in schooling history. The opinions on technology may be skewed due to this reasoning. However, is constant technology in schools the future of education? 

The results of the survey vary widely between grades. When answering which they prefer from only Macbook to only paper, 26% of Freshmen preferred paper compared to 6% of Juniors. While neither is a majority, it represents the variability of opinions on technology between grade levels. This same sentiment rings true when comparing those that picked only Macbook compared to only paper. 39% of Freshmen prefer only using their Macbook compared to 56% of Juniors that prefer using only their Macbook. The results from these questions offer an interesting conclusion; younger students have a greater dependence on paper than older students. This contrasts the widely held belief that the younger generation has higher dependence on technology than previous generations. It is clear that the younger students are, the more negative their views are on technology. 

This survey was also conducted to gauge the amount of time students use their laptop each day. 87% of students surveyed use their laptop Always/Frequently throughout the school day. This provides the conclusion that for the most part, students are learning and completing assignments through their laptop. Context Dependent learning is simply the psychological idea that when the context of learning and testing are the same, a student will perform better. For example, throughout the 2020-2021 school year, various districts were testing out being in-person half the week and then the other half being virtual. The blend of learning in-person and virtual proves to be detrimental to the learning of students because they are not learning in the same environment where they are testing. It is also helpful for teachers when developing their tests. While learning, if the students utilize paper then the test should be on paper and vice versa. Since most students are learning through their laptops for a majority of the day, then most of the tests should be online. However this is not the case. Over 70% of students answered that their teachers typically give paper tests. 

The overall consensus of the final question, “Any other thoughts on the topic?”,  is that it really depends on the class. For some classes, utilizing technology is a must. However, with other classes it doesn’t make sense to only use technology. The role of technology in schools is not to completely take over. It is to act as a supplement for learning. While school administrations throughout the country are finding ways to incorporate technology in the classroom to increase learning, the goal may not be received from the students. Quite possibly the most important finding, 70% of students are either neutral or disagree that they learn better through technology. The goal of school is obviously to learn and engage students, however if technology is not achieving this then new objectives need to be organized to better engage students.