COMPED. Computers in Education Study

The IEA Computers in Education Study (COMPED) aimed to describe and analyze various aspects of the introduction and use of computers in participating countries.

The study was designed as a two-stage survey. Stage 1 of the study was a descriptive survey that investigated computer use at the elementary, lower-secondary, and upper-secondary levels. It focused on how computers were used, the extent and availability of computers in schools, the nature of instruction about computers, and estimates of the effects that computers had on students, the curriculum, and the school as an institution. Stage 2 of the study consisted of two parts. The first part was a follow-up of Stage 1 and studied changes over time. The second part involved assessing the effects of schools, teachers, and classroom practices on student outcomes in the domain of computer usage in schools (functional computer knowledge, skills, and attitudes).

In both stages, questionnaires were given to school principals, computer coordinators, and teachers (both computer-using teachers as well as teachers who did not work with them). In Stage 2, data were also collected from students via a functional information technology test, attitude questionnaire, and background questionnaire. The COMPED Stage 1 data collection occurred in 1989 and Stage 2 in 1992.

Target population

The populations of interest were students in the grades in which the modal age was 10 years and 13 years (fifth and eighth grades, respectively, in most countries), and students in the final year of secondary education.

Participating education systems

Stage 1: Austria, Belgium (Flemish), Belgium (French), Canada (British Columbia), China, France, Germany (FRG), Greece, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Switzerland, and United States.

Stage 2: Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, India, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Netherlands, Slovenia, Thailand, and United States.

Key findings

Computer usage in schools

Rapid changes occurred between 1989 and 1992 in the percentage of schools that had access to computers in all participating countries and at all grade levels. The increases were the result of governmental programs, as well as support by local communities and the efforts of individual schools.

In both 1989 and 1992, the major use of computers in school was for teaching about computers, their applications, and how to handle them. Only a minority of students used computers regularly as a part of their instruction in the subjects of mathematics, science, and mother tongue.

Related factors

Opportunities provided outside of school were a major factor that influenced student learning about computers. At all three school levels, students' computer-related knowledge was only weakly associated with the level of opportunity they had to acquire that knowledge in school.

In 1989, computer use in schools was male dominated in most of the participating countries. Only the French-speaking systems and Greece employed special gender-related policies on computer usage in the majority of schools. These policies consisted of training female teachers in computer education and selecting females to supervise computer activities.

The amount of information teachers received in training courses was strongly related to their knowledge, skills, and attitudes toward computers. Staff development was one of the factors most strongly associated with the implementation of computers in schools.

Major publications

Pelgrum, W.J., & Plomp, T. (1991). The use of computers in education worldwide: Results from the IEA 'Computers in Education' survey in 19 educational systems. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Pelgrum, W.J., & Plomp, T. (Eds.). (1993). The IEA Study of Computers in Education: Implementation of an innovation in 21 education systems. Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Pelgrum, W.J., Reinen, I.A.M.J., & Plomp, T. (Eds.). (1993). Schools, teachers, students and computers: A cross-national perspective. IEA-Comped Study Stage 2. Enschede, Netherlands: University of Twente.

Plomp, T., Anderson, R.E., & Kontogiannopoulou-Polydorides, G. (Eds.). (1996). Cross national policies and practices on computers in education. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.