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Can Mobile Phones Improve Learning? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Niger

Author

Listed:
  • Jenny C. Aker
  • Christopher Ksoll
  • Travis J. Lybbert

Abstract

The returns to educational investments hinge on whether such investments can improve the quality and persistence of educational gains. We report the results from a randomized evaluation of an adult education program in Niger, in which some students learned how to use simple mobile phones (Project ABC). Students in ABC villages achieved test scores that were 0.19-0.26 standard deviations higher than those in standard adult education classes, and standardized math test scores remained higher seven months after the end of classes. These results suggest that simple information technology can be harnessed to improve educational outcomes among rural populations. (JEL D83, I21, O15, O33)

Suggested Citation

  • Jenny C. Aker & Christopher Ksoll & Travis J. Lybbert, 2012. "Can Mobile Phones Improve Learning? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Niger," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 94-120, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:4:y:2012:i:4:p:94-120
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.4.4.94
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. T. Paul Schultz, 2004. "Evidence of Returns to Schooling in Africa from Household Surveys: Monitoring and Restructuring the Market for Education," Journal of African Economies, Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE), vol. 13(02), pages 95-148, December.
    2. Jenny C. Aker & Christopher Ksoll & Travis J. Lybbert, 2012. "Can Mobile Phones Improve Learning? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Niger," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 94-120, October.
    3. Hanushek, Eric A, 1995. "Interpreting Recent Research on Schooling in Developing Countries," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 10(2), pages 227-246, August.
    4. Tahir Andrabi & Jishnu Das & Asim Ijaz Khwaja & Tristan Zajonc, 2011. "Do Value-Added Estimates Add Value? Accounting for Learning Dynamics," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(3), pages 29-54, July.
    5. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2008. "The Role of Cognitive Skills in Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(3), pages 607-668, September.
    6. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Shawn Cole & Esther Duflo & Leigh Linden, 2007. "Remedying Education: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments in India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1235-1264.
    7. Glewwe, Paul & Kremer, Michael & Moulin, Sylvie & Zitzewitz, Eric, 2004. "Retrospective vs. prospective analyses of school inputs: the case of flip charts in Kenya," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 74(1), pages 251-268, June.
    8. Jenny C. Aker & Isaac M. Mbiti, 2010. "Mobile Phones and Economic Development in Africa," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(3), pages 207-232, Summer.
    9. Niels-Hugo Blunch & Claus C. Pörtner, 2011. "Literacy, Skills, and Welfare: Effects of Participation in Adult Literacy Programs," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 60(1), pages 17-66.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Deshpande, Ashwini & Desrochers, Alain & Ksoll, Christopher & Shonchoy, Abu S., 2017. "The Impact of a Computer-based Adult Literacy Program on Literacy and Numeracy: Evidence from India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 451-473.
    2. Travis J. Lybbert & Bruce Wydick, 2017. "Hope as Aspirations, Agency, and Pathways: Poverty Dynamics and Microfinance in Oaxaca, Mexico," NBER Chapters,in: The Economics of Poverty Traps National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Sean Lewis-Faupel & Yusuf Neggers & Benjamin A. Olken & Rohini Pande, 2014. "Can Electronic Procurement Improve Infrastructure Provision? Evidence From Public Works in India and Indonesia," NBER Working Papers 20344, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Aker, Jenny C. & Ksoll, Christopher, 2016. "Can mobile phones improve agricultural outcomes? Evidence from a randomized experiment in Niger," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 44-51.
    5. Aristide Mabali & Moundigbaye Mantobaye, 2015. "Oil and Regional Development in Chad: Impact Assessment of Doba Oil Project on the Poverty in Host Region," Working Papers halshs-01161624, HAL.
    6. Jenny C. Aker & Marcel Fafchamps, 2015. "Mobile Phone Coverage and Producer Markets: Evidence from West Africa," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 29(2), pages 262-292.
    7. Eswaran, Mukesh, 2018. "Can For-Profit Business Alleviate Extreme Poverty in Developing Countries?," Microeconomics.ca working papers tina_marandola-2018-6, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 06 Jun 2018.
    8. repec:mth:ber888:v:7:y:2017:i:1:p:261-272 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:iza:izawol:y:journl:2017:n:374 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Jenny C. Aker & Christopher Ksoll & Travis J. Lybbert, 2012. "Can Mobile Phones Improve Learning? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Niger," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 4(4), pages 94-120, October.
    11. Aristide MABALI & Moundigbaye MANTOBAYE, 2015. "Oil and Regional Development in Chad: Impact Assessment of Doba Oil Project on the Poverty in Host Region," Working Papers 201515, CERDI.
    12. Peters, Jörg & Langbein, Jörg & Roberts, Gareth, 2017. "Generalization in the Tropics: Development policy, randomized controlled trials, and external validity," Ruhr Economic Papers 716, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    13. Christopher Ksoll, Janny Aker, Danielle Miller, Karla C. Perez-Mendoza, and Susan L. Smalley, 2014. "Learning without Teachers? A Randomized Experiment of a Mobile Phone-Based Adult Education Program in Los Angeles - Working Paper 368," Working Papers 368, Center for Global Development.
    14. Peters, Jörg & Langbein, Jörg & Roberts, Gareth, 2016. "Policy evaluation, randomized controlled trials, and external validity—A systematic review," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 147(C), pages 51-54.
    15. Del Rey, Elena & Estevan, Fernanda, 2013. "Conditional cash transfers and education quality in the presence of credit constraints," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 34(C), pages 76-84.
    16. Sean Lewis-Faupel & Yusuf Neggers & Benjamin A. Olken & Rohini Pande, 2016. "Can Electronic Procurement Improve Infrastructure Provision? Evidence from Public Works in India and Indonesia," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 8(3), pages 258-283, August.
    17. Clair Null & Clemencia Cosentino & Swetha Sridharan & Laura Meyer, "undated". "Policies and Programs to Improve Secondary Education in Developing Countries: A Review of the Evidence," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 516e420e637c4851b15e6a3f6, Mathematica Policy Research.
    18. repec:eee:wdevel:v:104:y:2018:i:c:p:358-374 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O33 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Technological Change: Choices and Consequences; Diffusion Processes

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