The Impact of Internet Access at Home and/or School on Students’ Academic Performance in Brazil
52 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2012 Last revised: 27 Aug 2012
Date Written: March 31, 2012
The paper examines the effects of Internet access at school and/or at home on students’ academic performance in urban areas utilizing a Brazilian unique dataset collected by the governmental agency “Instituto Nacional de Estudos e Pesquisas Educacionais Anísio Teixeira” (National Institute of Educational Research Anísio Teixeira) or INEP for years 2007 and 2009. Using the propensity scores matching methodology the paper assesses the impact of internet on standardized Portuguese and mathematics tests that students in all public schools take in the 8th grade while controlling for an extensive list of variables which includes various household assets, parental education and involvement with student activities, the school physical infrastructure, safety, electronic equipments and library as well as teachers’ academic history, experience and pedagogical strategies. Following Lechner (2001) the multiple treatment case is examined constituting of four alternatives: students with no Internet access at home or at school, students with Internet access at home but not at school, students with Internet access at school but not at home, and students with Internet access at home and at school. The results suggest that Internet access at home considerably improves test scores of 8th graders. The results hold for both Portuguese and mathematics tests and for both years 2007 and 2009. On the other hand, the Internet access at school either does not improve the academic performance of students (as it is the case for Portuguese test scores) or the effect is of much smaller magnitude (as it is the case for mathematics test scores) in 2007. In 2009 the impact of Internet access only at school is positive and significant though still of smaller magnitude. This improvement is most likely related to the “Broadband in Schools” program initiated in 2008 with the goal of bringing computer and broadband access to all public urban elementary and middle schools by the end of 2010. It is expected that this program has also promoted the awareness of the importance of internet use for students’ education and, thus, motivated its use in pedagogical activities. Overall, the findings offer interesting implications from policy perspective. In the past decade policymakers in Brazil as well as in many other countries have allocated substantial funds to increase Internet access at schools. The results in this paper along with previous research suggest that the efforts to increase Internet access at schools can result in much higher magnitude of improvement of students’ academic performance if they are combined with policy initiatives to increase home Internet access and incorporate Internet based educational tools at school.
Keywords: Internet access, academic performance, propensity score matching
JEL Classification: I25, H52, L96
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation