A study evaluates the impact of the eduCAT programme on the acquisition of competences among secondary school pupils in Catalonia

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Directed by the Vice-Rector for Research at the Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Toni Mora, in cooperation with Professor J. Oriol Escardíbul, from the University of Barcelona, the study evaluates the impact of the eduCAT programme on the academic performance of secondary school pupils.  The results demonstrate that the implementation of the eduCAT programme had negative consequences in terms of the acquisition of competences among pupils in all the materials evaluated. However, the impact is not quantitatively significant: it means a reduction of 5.1% in the average mark obtained by pupils overall in the competences tests.

The study concludes that the eduCAT programme has had a negative impact on the acquisition of pupil’s competences at the end of secondary school; however the impact was not significant in quantitative terms.

The impact is always higher in the case of boys as compared to girls, particularly in terms of the Catalan and English subjects. The results do not disagree with certain international studies; therefore, although empirical evidence on the use of ICT in the classroom is not conclusive, the majority of studies demonstrate either no impact or a negative impact

Professor Mora underlined the fact that “the study does not criticise the implementation of technological tools in the classroom, but does warn that the way in which programmes are implemented does need to be taken into account”.

According to this study, the impact was on evaluated competences, not on non-evaluated competences, non-cognitive competences (such as teamwork, the implication of students or research competences) or the degree of assimilation of new technologies.

The study considers the impact of the eduCAT programme on the results of tests to evaluate competences undertaken by the Advanced Council for the Evaluation of the Education System in three cohorts of students (academic year 2012/2013 and 2014/2015) from 4th year of Spanish Basic Education (ESO) in mathematics and languages (Catalan, Spanish and English).  The results of these students is taken into account for competency tests results for 6th year in primary school, for tests taken 4 years previously, in order to monitor their academic level.

The analytical method used by the authors is similar to that used in clinical trials, which means schools that implemented the eduCAT (treatment group) programme are compared with schools with similar socio-economic characteristics that did not participate in the programme (control group).  Data related to the group of schools in Catalonia was worked on, and the authors gave a specific questionnaire to more than 700 schools in order to obtain more information about the application of the programme.

The eduCATprogramme was implemented by the Catalan Government during the 2009/2010 academic year, under the initial name of eduCAT1x1. One of its main objectives was to ensure that students are able to use laptops and electronic devices in their learning processes within the classroom.  In relation to the computers, half of the cost was subsidised and the other half (a total of 150 euros) was paid for by families. These resources were preferentially used in the first cycle of Spanish Basic Education (ESO).  From the 2011/2012 academic year onwards the eduCAT2.0 programme was implemented, as a continuation of eduCAT1x1, although some changes were made to it.

The Area of Technology for Learning and Knowledge in the Department of Learning, the Advanced Council for the Evaluation of the Education System (CSASE) and the Catalan Statistics Institute (IDESCAT) all participated in the study. The study also received financial support from the UIC Barcelona Eurest Chair in Public Finance: Healthcare and Education Policy Assessment, a chair directed by Dr Mora.