Patterns of cognitive returns to information and Communication Technology (ICT) use of 15-year-olds
Global evidence from a hierarchical linear modeling approach using PISA 2018
Existing literature shows varying impacts of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) on learning outcomes depending on the type and quality of technology used. However, current research on the optimal level of ICT use for the cognitive development of students is scarce and has remained country-specific, primarily focusing on developed economies. This paper undertakes a cross-country comparison across 79 nations, investigating ICT use and its association with cognitive gain patterns as determined by reading, mathematics, and science test scores of 15-year-olds. The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2018 dataset collected by the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has been used by applying two-stage regression analysis. The first stage involves a three-level Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) factoring for data nested at the student-, school-, and country-level. The second stage of the empirical model involves a heterogeneity analysis to evaluate variance in ICT use patterns across different groups of countries, clustered on the basis of their level of ICT development. The results show a positive impact of ICT engagement on the test scores of students across all the subjects. However, returns to ICT use tend to start diminishing after the engagement level of students crosses a medium threshold of using ICT several times within a week. Furthermore, the heterogeneity analysis supports conspicuous diminishing patterns in ICT use irrespective of the economic status of the students. Cross-country comparisons show that diminishing returns to ICT use are more prominent in countries with well-developed ICT infrastructure than in less-developed ones. Where diminishing returns hold, excessive use of ICT in education is not an optimal choice, and significant cognitive gains can be achieved by using the complementarity between traditional learning techniques with ICT-based learning in different blended settings.