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Disrupting Education? Experimental Evidence on Technology-Aided Instruction in India

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  • Karthik Muralidharan
  • Abhijeet Singh
  • Alejandro J. Ganimian

Abstract

We present experimental evidence on the impact of a personalized technology-aided after-school instruction program on learning outcomes. Our setting is middle-school grades in urban India, where a lottery provided winning students with a voucher to cover program costs. We find that lottery winners scored 0.36σ higher in math and 0.22σ higher in Hindi relative to lottery losers after just 4.5-months of access to the program. IV estimates suggest that attending the program for 90 days would increase math and Hindi test scores by 0.59σ and 0.36σ respectively. We find similar absolute test score gains for all students, but the relative gain was much greater for academically-weaker students because their rate of learning in the control group was close to zero. We show that the program was able to effectively cater to the very wide variation in student learning levels within a single grade by precisely targeting instruction to the level of student preparation. The program was cost effective, both in terms of productivity per dollar and unit of time. Our results suggest that well-designed technology-aided instruction programs can sharply improve productivity in delivering education.

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  • Karthik Muralidharan & Abhijeet Singh & Alejandro J. Ganimian, 2016. "Disrupting Education? Experimental Evidence on Technology-Aided Instruction in India," NBER Working Papers 22923, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22923
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    1. Anandi Mani & Emma Riley, 2019. "Social networks, role models, peer effects, and aspirations," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2019-120, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    2. Daron Acemoglu & Pascual Restrepo, 2020. "The wrong kind of AI? Artificial intelligence and the future of labour demand," Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, Cambridge Political Economy Society, vol. 13(1), pages 25-35.
    3. Derksen, Laura & Leclerc, Catherine Michaud & Souza, Pedro CL, 2019. "Searching for Answers : The Impact of Student Access to Wikipedia," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1236, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    4. Chakraborty, Tanika & Jayaraman, Rajshri, 2019. "School feeding and learning achievement: Evidence from India's midday meal program," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 249-265.
    5. Sabrin A. Beg & Adrienne M. Lucas & Waqas Halim & Umar Saif, 2019. "Beyond the Basics: Improving Post-Primary Content Delivery through Classroom Technology," NBER Working Papers 25704, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Aaron K. Chatterji, 2017. "Innovation and American K-12 Education," NBER Chapters, in: Innovation Policy and the Economy, Volume 18, pages 27-51, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Dongre, Ambrish & Tewary, Vibhu, 2020. "Pain without gain?: Impact of school rationalisation in India," International Journal of Educational Development, Elsevier, vol. 72(C).
    8. Nerea Gómez-Fernández & Mauro Mediavilla, 2018. "Do information and communication technologies (ICT) improve educational outcomes? Evidence for Spain in PISA 2015," Working Papers 2018/20, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).
    9. Ferman, Bruno & Finamor, Lucas & Lima, Lycia, 2019. "Are Public Schools Ready to Integrate Math Classes with Khan Academy?," MPRA Paper 94736, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Yue Ma & Robert W. Fairlie & Prashant Loyalka & Scott Rozelle, 2020. "Isolating the “Tech” from EdTech: Experimental Evidence on Computer Assisted Learning in China," NBER Working Papers 26953, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Barbara Biasi & David J. Deming & Petra Moser, 2020. "Education and Innovation," NBER Chapters, in: The Role of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Economic Growth, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Davide Viviano & Jelena Bradic, 2020. "Fair Policy Targeting," Papers 2005.12395, arXiv.org.
    13. Islam, Asad & Kwon, Sungoh & Masood, Eema & Prakash, Nishith & Sabarwal, Shwetlena & Saraswat, Deepak, 2020. "When Goal-Setting Forges Ahead but Stops Short," GLO Discussion Paper Series 526, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    14. Chirantan Chatterjee & Eric A. Hanushek & Shreekanth Mahendiran, 2020. "Can Greater Access to Education Be Inequitable? New Evidence from India’s Right to Education Act," NBER Working Papers 27377, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Eric Bettinger & Robert W. Fairlie & Anastasia Kapuza & Elena Kardanova & Prashant Loyalka & Andrey Zakharov, 2020. "Does EdTech Substitute for Traditional Learning? Experimental Estimates of the Educational Production Function," NBER Working Papers 26967, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Derksen, Laura & Leclerc, Catherine Michaud & Souza, Pedro CL, 2019. "Searching for Answers: The Impact of Student Access to Wikipedia," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 450, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    17. Naik, Gopal & Chitre, Chetan & Bhalla, Manaswini & Rajan, Jothsna, 2020. "Impact of use of technology on student learning outcomes: Evidence from a large-scale experiment in India," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 127(C).
    18. Islam, Asadul & Kwon, Sungoh & Masood, Eema & Prakash, Nishith & Sabarwal, Shwetlena & Saraswat, Deepak, 2020. "When Goal-Setting Forges Ahead but Stops Short," IZA Discussion Papers 13188, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    19. de Hoyos, Rafael, 2020. "Equal opportunities to enhance growth," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 127(C).
    20. Malamud, Ofer & Cueto, Santiago & Cristia, Julian & Beuermann, Diether W., 2019. "Do children benefit from internet access? Experimental evidence from Peru," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 138(C), pages 41-56.
    21. Blimpo,Moussa Pouguinimpo & Gajigo,Ousman & Owusu,Solomon & Tomita,Ryoko & Xu,Yanbin, 2020. "Technology in the Classroom and Learning in Secondary Schools," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9288, The World Bank.
    22. Aaron Chatterji, 2017. "Innovation and American K-12 Education," NBER Working Papers 23531, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    23. van Klaveren, Chris & Vonk, Sebastiaan & Cornelisz, Ilja, 2017. "The effect of adaptive versus static practicing on student learning - evidence from a randomized field experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 175-187.
    24. Yasuyuki Sawada & Minhaj Mahmud & Mai Seki & An Le & Hikaru Kawarazaki, 2019. "Fighting Against Learning Crisis in Developing Countries: A Randomized Experiment of Self-Learning at the Right Level," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-1127, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • 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

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