Effects of technology on Achievement in Social Studies


The first article I reviewed was “Effects of Multimedia Software on Achievement of Middle School Students in an American History Class” by authors Karla V. Kingsley and Randall Boone. The purpose of the study was to test the effects of a specific American History software program, called Ignite Early American History, on 7th grade student achievement in social studies. Their rationale was to add to what they called “a dearth of data-based research specifically addressing the issue of the effectiveness of different types of educational software in relation to student achievement outcomes (Williams, Kingsley and Boone, 2004).


They discovered “a statistically significant difference between pretest and posttest achievement scores for students who used the American History software compared to students who did not use the program” (Kingsley and Boone, 2006). While both the control student group (no software) and the experimental group (software) showed improvement from pretest to posttest, the experimental group doubled the mean score of the control group. The experimental group scored an average of 12 points higher on a 50 question multiple choice test, while the control group scored around 6 points higher.


The study is a great resource for a very specific multimedia resource and adds quality data-based research to what effect technology software has on student achievement. Yet, the study also illuminates how the data may differ based on what program is being used, and how it is being used by teachers.



The second article I reviewed was “Using GIS in Social Studies Classrooms” by Chenfeng Zong. GIS stands for Geographical Information Systems and has a wide variety of applications, particularly within the educational setting. In a 2003 study, Kerski showed that “students using GIS scored significantly higher than their counterparts who were using traditional methods, and demonstrated a better ability to synthesize, identify, and describe reasons for human and physical patterns” (Kerski, 2003).  The purpose of Zhang’s 2007 study was “to find out if GIS technology can promote higher thinking skills of the student” (Zhang, 2007).  What they concluded overall was “that using GIS does does improve learners’ higher thinking skills” (Zhang, 2007). The major differences were seen in the areas of students ability to apply, analyze, synthesis, and evaluate information as per Blooms Taxonomy (Blooms, 1956).


Zhang also conclude that GIS can be used in many content areas and not primarily in Geography and Science. My thoughts are that GIS, although dealing with geography specifically can easily be used in math class that addresses geometry, among other things. The cost of GIS systems, however, may prove to be a hindrance to schools looking to incorporate the software.  


Kingsley, K., & Boone, R. (2008, Winter2008). Effects of Multimedia Software on Achievement of Middle School Students in an American History Class. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41(2), 203-221. Retrieved February 15, 2009, from Education Research Complete database.

Zhang, C. (2007, February). Using GIS in Social Studies Classrooms. International Journal of Learning, 13(10), 121-124. Retrieved February 15, 2009, from Education Research Complete database.

7 Responses to “Effects of technology on Achievement in Social Studies”

  1.   muchado Says:

    Hi Ben,

    Great post, nice to hear about some positive response to computer use in the classroom. It would be interesting to see the first study extended to additional classrooms with other instructors over time. What insights did you take away from these studies that might be useful in your own classes?
    Al. J.

  2.   ashleabakeredu580 Says:

    From other articles I have reviewed for class, including my own, technology really does seem to have its place in education. The benefits shown are meaningful, even if the technology only increases the students attitude towards a particulary difficult, or sometimes un-thrilling topics (such as math).

  3.   pheonixellis Says:


    Traditionally, math can be taught in an less than thrilling manner, but yet so can English and Science. In fact, Boone and Kingsley point out that a national survey conducted recently has placed social studies as the subject students are 2nd most disinterested in, English is the most. Research seems to continually point towards the teaching methods and pedagogy of the teacher more than anything. Technology is just there to help, and where it is not helping the teacher, I believe it should be reconsidered.

  4.   coyn7544 Says:

    I could not believe the impact that the computer program had on the students learning. If someone told me that between the pre and posttest the experiment was going to out score control based on a computer program, ok maybe. If they told me it was twice as high I would be listening. The fact that the programs improved scores and caused higher-level thinking is causing me to think twice about adding computer programs to my lessons.

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