Home broadband access makes a marked difference to students – study shows

Thanks to Doug Dawson for highlighting the Michigan State University’s Quello Center’s definitive study on the impact of lack of broadband on students…

The study showed significant performance differences for students with and without home broadband. Students with no Internet access at home tested lower on a range of metrics including digital skills, homework completion and grade point average. Some of the specific findings include

  • Students with home Internet access had an overall grade point average of 3.18 while students with no Internet access at home had a GPA of 2.81.

  • During the study, 64% of students with no home Internet access sometimes left homework undone compared to only 17% of students with a high-speed connection at home.

  • Students without home Internet access spend an average of 30 minutes longer doing homework each evening.

  • The study showed that students with no Internet at home often had no alternative access to broadband. 35% of students with no broadband also didn’t have a computer at home. 34% of students had no access to alternate sources of broadband such as a library, church, community center, or homes of a neighbor or relative.

One of the most important findings was that there is a huge gap in digital skills for students without home broadband. To quote the study, “The gap in digital skills between students with no home access or cell phone only and those with fast or slow home Internet access is equivalent to the gap in digital skills between 8th and 11th grade students.” It’s almost too hard to grasp that the average 11th grade student without home broadband had the equivalent digital skills an 8th grader with home broadband. Digital skills not only involves competence in working with technology, but also is manifested by the ability to work efficiently, to communicate effectively with others, and managing and evaluation information.

It’s hard to think beyond coronavirus right now – but I try to think of the positive long term impact that this disruption can have on society. One of the silver linings, I have mentioned repeatedly is the immediate and acute need for broadband to all areas if students are going to learn at all, if people are going to thrive economically, if we are going to provide healthcare access – from screening for coronavirus to mental health. And here is, as Doug days, definitive proof that it will make for more effective students going forward.

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, education, Research by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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