The Massachusetts Technology Collaborative selected Boston College's Technology and Assessment Study Collaborative (inTASC), housed in the Lynch School of Education, to conduct a three year evaluation of BWLI. The evaluation provided meaningful data concerning the immediate impacts of the technology on classroom practices. inTASC designed and implemented an evaluation plan that will include methods for tracking student achievement and other education impacts using both qualitative and quantitative approaches. The evaluation began in December 2005 and the final report was completed at the end of the 2008-09 school year. Evaluation reports are available on inTASC's website.
inTASC was formed within Boston College's Center for the Study of Testing, Evaluation and Educational Policy (CSTEEP) to focus specifically on the applications of computer-based technologies to student assessment. CSTEEP has conducted research on student assessment and testing for over 20 years.
Despite growing interest and investments in 1:1 laptop programs, there is a serious lack of empirical evidence regarding the outcomes and impacts of 1:1 computing on teaching and learning. Those studies that do exist generally suffer from one or more of the following problems:
- Lack of baseline data against which outcomes can be compared;
- Lack of comparison sites that do not have 1:1 laptop programs;
- Lack of student achievement outcome measures; and
- Failure to examine the impact of a program over multiple years
The Berkshire Wireless Learning Initiative provided a unique opportunity to explore and fully document the effects of 1:1 computing on teaching and learning using a variety of methodological techniques that overcome such problems. Boston College designed and implemented an evaluation plan that assessed the immediate impacts of technology on classroom practices, using both qualitative and quantitative approaches. These methods included establishing baseline data and measuring changes. The study also compared Berkshire County's results to a control group school system that did not have 1:1 laptop computing.
Specifically, the study measured how successfully the program achieved the following targeted outcomes:
- Enhanced student achievement as shown through test scores, grades, and assessments;
- Improved student engagement as shown through attendance, disciplinary data, and classroom participation;
- Fundamental changes in teaching strategies, curriculum methods, and classroom management; and
- Enhanced capabilities among students to conduct independent research, and collaborate with peers.