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Teaching practices and cognitive skills

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  • Bietenbeck, Jan

Abstract

National Teaching Standards by various educational organizations in the United States call for a decrease in the use of traditional teaching practices (such as learning by rote) and an increase in the use of modern teaching practices (such as working in small groups) in schools. Yet a small literature in economics has consistently found that traditional teaching raises test scores, while the effect of modern teaching appears to be small and sometimes even negative. This paper uses data from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) to show that traditional and modern teaching practices promote different cognitive skills in students. In particular, traditional teaching practices increase students' factual knowledge and their competency in solving routine problems, but have no significant effect on their reasoning skills. The effects of modern teaching practices are exactly the opposite, with modern teaching fostering reasoning skills. I provide evidence that standardized tests do not measure reasoning skills well, which explains the finding of only small or negative effects of modern teaching on test scores in the literature. I discuss the implications of these results for the recommendations made by National Teaching Standards.

Suggested Citation

  • Bietenbeck, Jan, 2014. "Teaching practices and cognitive skills," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 143-153.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:labeco:v:30:y:2014:i:c:p:143-153
    DOI: 10.1016/j.labeco.2014.03.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Schwerdt, Guido & Wuppermann, Amelie C., 2011. "Is traditional teaching really all that bad? A within-student between-subject approach," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 365-379, April.
    2. Yann Algan & Pierre Cahuc & Andrei Shleifer, 2013. "Teaching Practices and Social Capital," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 189-210, July.
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    5. Dan D. Goldhaber & Dominic J. Brewer, 1997. "Why Don't Schools and Teachers Seem to Matter? Assessing the Impact of Unobservables on Educational Productivity," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 32(3), pages 505-523.
    6. Victor Lavy, 2011. "What Makes an Effective Teacher? Quasi-Experimental Evidence," NBER Working Papers 16885, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Jonah E. Rockoff, 2004. "The Impact of Individual Teachers on Student Achievement: Evidence from Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 247-252, May.
    8. Thomas J. Kane & Eric S. Taylor & John H. Tyler & Amy L. Wooten, 2011. "Identifying Effective Classroom Practices Using Student Achievement Data," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 46(3), pages 587-613.
    9. Charles T. Clotfelter & Helen F. Ladd & Jacob L. Vigdor, 2010. "Teacher Credentials and Student Achievement in High School: A Cross-Subject Analysis with Student Fixed Effects," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(3).
    10. Schwerdt, Guido & Wuppermann, Amelie C., 2011. "Is traditional teaching really all that bad? A within-student between-subject approach," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(2), pages 365-379, April.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Ludger Woessmann, 2016. "The Importance of School Systems: Evidence from International Differences in Student Achievement," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(3), pages 3-32, Summer.
    2. Hidalgo-Cabrillana, Ana & Lopez-Mayan, Cristina, 2018. "Teaching styles and achievement: Student and teacher perspectives," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 184-206.
    3. Chris Ryan, 2017. "Secondary School Teacher Effects on Student Achievement in Australian Schools," Melbourne Institute Working Paper Series wp2017n11, Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, The University of Melbourne.
    4. Kohei Kubota & Takahiro Ito & Fumio Ohtake, 2019. "Long-Term Consequences of Group Work in Japanese Public Elementary Schools," Discussion Papers in Economics and Business 19-11, Osaka University, Graduate School of Economics.
    5. repec:eee:jjieco:v:50:y:2018:i:c:p:26-36 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Sarah Flèche, 2017. "Teacher Quality, Test Scores and Non-Cognitive Skills: Evidence from Primary School Teachers in the UK," CEP Discussion Papers dp1472, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    7. repec:bla:jecsur:v:32:y:2018:i:3:p:878-915 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Simon Briole, 2019. "From Teacher Quality to Teaching Quality: Instructional Productivity and Teaching Practices in the US," PSE Working Papers halshs-01993616, HAL.
    9. Juan Francisco Jimeno & Aitor Lacuesta & Marta Martínez-Matute & Ernesto Villanueva, 2016. "Education, labour market experience and cognitive skills: evidence from PIAAC," Working Papers 1635, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
    10. Cordero, José Manuel & Gil, María & Pedraja Chaparro, Francisco, 2016. "Exploring the effect of financial literacy courses on student achievement: a cross-country approach using PISA 2012 data," MPRA Paper 75474, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    11. repec:eee:jpolmo:v:40:y:2018:i:6:p:1313-1331 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Cordero, José Manuel & Cristobal, Victor & Santín, Daniel, 2017. "Causal Inference on Education Policies: A Survey of Empirical Studies Using PISA, TIMSS and PIRLS," MPRA Paper 76295, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    13. repec:kap:jproda:v:49:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s11123-017-0517-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. Tanaka, Ryuichi & Ishizaki, Kazumi, 2018. "Do teaching practices matter for students’ academic achievement? A case of linguistic activity," Journal of the Japanese and International Economies, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 26-36.
    15. Vaclav Korbel & Michal Paulus, 2017. "Do Teaching Practices Impact Socio-emotional Skills?," Working Papers IES 2017/04, Charles University Prague, Faculty of Social Sciences, Institute of Economic Studies, revised Feb 2017.
    16. José Antonio Molina Marfil & Oscar David Marcenaro Gutierrez & Ana Martín Marcos, 2016. "Procesos de enseñanza-aprendizaje y producción educativa: un análisis de la competencia matemática," Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación volume 11, in: José Manuel Cordero Ferrera & Rosa Simancas Rodríguez (ed.), Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación 11, edition 1, volume 11, chapter 32, pages 585-604, Asociación de Economía de la Educación.
    17. Gunnes, Trude & Donze, Jocelyn, 2016. "Teaching Practices and the Management of Student Motivation, Effort and Achievement," MPRA Paper 69954, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Teaching practices; Cognitive skills; Standardized tests; TIMSS;

    JEL classification:

    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education

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