Non-Financial Extrinsic and Intrinsic Teacher Motivation in Government and Private Schools in India

October 3, 2016

Teacher quality has a large effect on student learning outcomes. But what’s the best way to motivate teachers and make sure they not only show up, but also teach in a way that taps into their potential? Answering this question is particularly pressing given the high enrollment rates across the developing world that have accompanied policies to boost education for all. 

Research area: Education

Country: India

Evaluation Sample: 360 schools

Timeline: 2013 - 2017

Intervention: Incentives

Researchers: Sangeeta Goyal, World Bank; Andrew Fraker, IDinsight; Neil Buddy Shah, IDinsight; Ronald Abraham, IDinsight; Deeptha Umapathy, IDinsight; Sangeeta Dey, World Bank; Lant Pritchett, Harvard University 



In India, where there has been a large push to provide all kids with a basic education, the number of out-of-school children dropped to 8.1 million in 2009 from 25 million in 2003. Despite this, student achievement has fallen and the proportion of third graders who know how to do subtraction, for example, dropped to 28 percent from 45 percent between 2006 and 2011. One reason seems to be that so many more disadvantage children are enrolled, and many aren't prepared for school. At the same time, teaching quality is poor, with teachers themselves not doing well on math and language tests.

To strengthen learning, education groups are experimenting with ways to motivate teachers without using financial incentives. For example, teachers may qualify for certificates if their students do well, or they may be invited to monthly meetings with their peers to share experiences and foster a sense of community and responsibility. The evaluation will gauge the cost-effectiveness of these strategies and their impact on teacher and student performance in government and low-cost private schools.

Photo: © World Bank / Curt Carnemark


Researchers will conduct a randomized control trial using a sample consisting of 360 primary schools. There will be two treatment groups -- 120 affordable primary private schools in Delhi, and 120 primary government schools in Uttar Pradesh – and there will be 60 control schools in each location. All the teachers in the treatment schools will participate in program run by STIR, a non-profit organization focused on improving teacher effectiveness. For the evaluation, three teachers from each school will be randomly selected and a random sample of 10 students from each teacher will be surveyed.  The students will be boys and girls in grades three to five. 

In one treatment group, teachers will receive intrinsic motivation, which consists of trying to make the teachers feel part of a large, important movement. This group will participate in activities to shift their professional mindset so that they believe themselves responsible for and capable of improving learning outcomes. In the second treatment group, teachers will receive extrinsic motivation techniques including recognition for innovation in the classroom. In this group, teachers who excel will also receive certificates, and performance data on students and teacher will be made accessible to community leaders. The control group won’t receive anything.