By WRAL Tech Wire STEM News

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – Can technology improve knowledge retention and student achievement?

We’ll soon find out.

Lenovo, ETS, and Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) are conducting a study to examine whether frequent, low-stakes computer-based testing during the summer can mitigate learning loss in elementary and middle-school students.

Students are being armed with ThinkPad laptops from Lenovo. ETS, one the nation’s top educational assessment companies, is conducting the research. CSC is providing consulting services and security for the program.

Testing has long been assumed to only assess what students know without affecting their learning directly; however, a growing body of research has shown that testing can also have direct, positive effects on learning by enhancing the long-term knowledge retention.

Knowledge retention during summer vacation remains critical in grades K-8, particularly in important transition skills like math and reading fluency.

The students in the study are equipped with ThinkPad T410 laptops to use in performing Web-based exercises several times a week that both assess and provide students with feedback in math and reading fluency. Students earn points and weekly prizes by working hard to improve their speed and accuracy in math and reading.

“Providing the technology to power this ETS research supports Lenovo’s global education strategy: to improve learning outcomes and increase operational efficiency for schools,” said Michael Schmedlen, director of worldwide education at Lenovo.

“This crucial research will illuminate whether technological interventions can improve knowledge retention using new measures of student achievement,” added Schmedlen. “As learning becomes more digital, PCs won’t just enable teaching, learning, creativity and collaboration, but also provide valuable information to administrators, parents and researchers. We look forward to reviewing the results of this important research.”

According to recent research, the more knowledge students can retain over the summer may mean that they can learn more quickly during the school year, and teachers can focus on covering new subjects without devoting class time to re-teaching previous topics.

“Students today are learning in technology-rich environments and computers offer an effective way to help students learn and to measure their progress year round, both in and outside of traditional classroom settings,” explained JoAnn Rock, ETS senior research scientist.

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