ICT use in schools has become a topic of interest in educational research (Eickelmann, 2011). Besides learning how to use ICT, it is important to understand how ICT use can affect learning and achievement (Voogt, 2008); as yet, it is not clear how. This study uses TIMSS 2007 (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) data to conduct an analysis, addressing the question of whether the extent of ICT use in mathematics education in primary schools is a predictor for achievement. It uses a multi-level approach to examine this question for three different education systems on three continents.
This study is grounded in research regarding ICT use for learning. Problem solving skills developed through the use of ICT have been found to be similar to the skills required for successful mathematical competence in secondary schools (Senkbeil & Wittwer, 2008). Moreover the link between problem solving is more significant for mathematics than for other domains. In this study, ICT use in general and at school, especially for mathematics learning is integrated into an analysis to gain a holistic view of the relationship between ICT use and mathematics achievement.
This study uses a portion of the TIMSS database which included grade 4 learners in 3 countries; Australia, Germany and Singapore with 4108, 5200 and 5041 participants respectively (Mullis et al. 2008). It makes use of student background data as well as student achievement data as input variables for the models. This study conducted a regression analysis using IDB Analyser, a statistical software application that was designed by the IEA specifically for handling large data sets derived from large-scale assessments like TIMSS (Rutkowski et al., 2010). Variables considered were; use of computers in general, the place of use (home, school or elsewhere) and the extent to which computers are used for mathematics school work. The dependent variable is the overall mathematics achievement score. All the regression models included socioeconomic indicators as controls so as to improve the accuracy of the ICT-related variable effects measured.
For Australia and Singapore, the data showed that students who used computers at school were more likely to obtain higher mathematics scores in relation to those who do not use computers in schools (by 24 and 26 points respectively, significant at p=.01). For Germany the effect was insignificant. In terms of the extent of ICT use for mathematics learning, the results showed that in all countries, students who used computers for mathematics learning every day, obtain lower achievement scores (by at least 50 points significant at p=.01) in mathematics compared to those who used ICT less frequently for mathematics.