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Measuring with Murray: Touchscreen technology and preschoolers' STEM learning

American students rank well below international peers in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Early exposure to STEM-related concepts is critical to later academic achievement. Given the rise of tablet-computer use in early childhood education settings, interactive technology might be one particularly fruitful way of supplementing early STEM education. Using a between-subjects experimental design, we sought to determine whether preschoolers could learn a fundamental math concept (i.e., measurement with non-standard units) from educational technology, and whether interactivity is a crucial component of learning from that technology. Participants who either played an interactive tablet-based game or viewed a non-interactive video demonstrated greater transfer of knowledge than those assigned to a control condition. Interestingly, interactivity contributed to better performance on near transfer tasks, while participants in the non-interactive condition performed better on far transfer tasks. Our findings suggest that, while preschool-aged children can learn early STEM skills from educational technology, interactivity may only further support learning in certain contexts. (author abstract)
Resource Type:
Reports & Papers
United States
California; Illinois; New York

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