Measuring with Murray: Touchscreen technology and preschoolers' STEM learning

Fashina Aladé*, Alexis R. Lauricella, Leanne Beaudoin-Ryan, Ellen Wartella

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

117 Scopus citations


American students rank well below international peers in the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Early exposure to STEM-related concepts is critical to later academic achievement. Given the rise of tablet-computer use in early childhood education settings, interactive technology might be one particularly fruitful way of supplementing early STEM education. Using a between-subjects experimental design, we sought to determine whether preschoolers could learn a fundamental math concept (i.e., measurement with non-standard units) from educational technology, and whether interactivity is a crucial component of learning from that technology. Participants who either played an interactive tablet-based game or viewed a non-interactive video demonstrated greater transfer of knowledge than those assigned to a control condition. Interestingly, interactivity contributed to better performance on near transfer tasks, while participants in the non-interactive condition performed better on far transfer tasks. Our findings suggest that, while preschool-aged children can learn early STEM skills from educational technology, interactivity may only further support learning in certain contexts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-441
Number of pages9
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Informal learning
  • Interactivity
  • Preschoolers
  • STEM education
  • Touchscreens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)


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