Generalizable Evidence that Computer Assisted Learning Improves Student Learning: A Systematic Review of Education Technology in China

Despite the proliferation of education technologies (EdTech) in education, past reviews that examine their effectiveness in the context of low- and middle-income countries are few and rarely seek to include studies published in languages other than English. This systematic review investigates the effectiveness of educational technology on primary and secondary student learning outcomes in China via a systematic search of both English- and Chinese-language databases. Eighteen (18) unique studies in 21 manuscripts on the effectiveness of EdTech innovations in China met the eligibility criteria. The majority of these evaluate computer aided self-led learning software packages designed to improve student learning (computer assisted learning, CAL), while the rest evaluate the use of education technology to improve classroom instruction (ICI) and remote instruction (RI). The pooled effect size of all included studies indicates a small, positive effect on student learning (0.13 SD, 95% CI [0.10, 0.17]). CAL used a supplement to existing educational inputs – which made up the large majority of positive effect sizes – and RI programs consistently showed positive and significant effects on learning. Our findings indicate no significant differences or impacts on the overall effect based on moderating variables such as the type of implementation approach, contextual setting, or school subject area. Taken together, while there is evidence of the positive impacts of two kinds of EdTech (supplemental computer assisted learning and remote instruction) in China, more evidence is needed to determine the effectiveness of other approaches.