Theoretical Framework: ICT and Student Performance

During the last decade, there has been an emergence of economic papers analysing the impact of instructional ICT-based innovations on student performance. These works can be divided in two different groups, depending on the methodology used in the analysis of digital effects and on the conclusions about the efficiency of online courses. On one hand, those studies that conclude that on line students perform worse than their face-to-face counterparts [2] [3].

Works in this group do compare on line with on-campus courses and share a common trait: they use to define on line courses as an homogeneous good, without a detailed specification of the methodology and technology used in teaching and learning processes; this constrain do not allow them to capture differences in performance for different complementarities of teaching method, ICT uses and students profile.

Within this group of empirical evidence about the worse performance of students enrolled in on line courses, we want to remark two papers. Firstly, empirical work of Brown and Liedholm [2], in which can be observed that students who are enrolled in an on line course have better characteristics than face-to-face students. It seems a contradiction, but the authors defend that these results reflect the benefits and the importance of the direct student-teacher interactions that occur in on-campus courses, concluding that the difference between performances of the two methods is significant. And secondly, the work of Coates et al.

[3], which results also show that students in on-campus courses use to score better than their on line counterparts, but this difference is here no significant. This difference is due to the relation between achievement and students’ profile through the effects of self-selection on students’ outcomes. The inaccurate selection leads to biased and inconsistent estimates in education production functions and may result in misleading inferences regarding “no significant difference” between on line and face-to-face instruction.

On the other hand, some works defending the idea that the discussion about whether to use or not use technology in higher education courses no longer concern because the real significant issue is in what manner technology is used at university, teachers and students’ level [12].

Last Words:

In other words, the benefit for students performance from the adoption of innovations in the technology of teaching and learning do not affect all teaching and learning methodologies equally, because it is based on a necessary equilibrium between institutional policy towards ICT adoption, students abilities, technology uses in the educational process by teachers and students and the selection of a methodology that matches with digital uses.

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