Learn how the World Bank Group is helping countries with COVID-19 (coronavirus). Find Out


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

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

12:30-2pm; 19 April 2017 (Wednesday)
room G7-011, World Bank 'G' building, 1776 G St, NW, Washington, DC

Prof. Karthik Muralidharan, UC San Diego

Halsey Rogers, Co-Director, World Development Report 2018


join via WebEx (mtg # 732 639 421 ; PW GJYP75yd)

What do we know about the impact of educational technologies on learning outcomes? For many years, you could count on one hand the number of rigorous evaluations of technology-related interventions in the education sector in developing countries. This is now, thankfully, beginning to change.

One recent study on this topic that is garnering lots of attention is an RCT of an after-school program in India which utilized the Mindspark learning platform. Please join us for a lively and in-depth discussion of this study with Prof. Karthik Muralidharan, the author (with Abhijeet Singh and Alejandro J. Ganimian) of Disrupting Education? Experimental Evidence on Technology-Aided Instruction in India.

Disrupting Education? Experimental Evidence on Technology-Aided Instruction in India
Muralidharan, Singh, Ganimian
NBER Working Paper 22923


We present experimental evidence on the impact of a technology-aided after-school instruction program on learning outcomes in middle school grades in urban India, using a lottery that provided students with a voucher to cover program costs. A key feature of the program was its ability to individually customize educational content to match the level and rate of progress of each student. We find that lottery winners had large increases in test scores of 0.36σ in math and 0.22σ in Hindi over just a 4.5-month period. 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 highly 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.

about the presenter:

Karthik Muralidharan is an associate professor of economics at the University of California, San Diego where he joined the faculty as an assistant professor in 2008. Born and raised in India, he earned an A.B. in economics (summa cum laude) from Harvard, an M.Phil. in economics from Cambridge (UK), and a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard. He is a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), a Fellow of the Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD), a Board member and co-chair of the Education program at the Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), an Affiliate at the Center for Effective Global Action (CEGA), and a Research Affiliate with Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA). Prof. Muralidharan's primary research interests include development, public, and labor economics. Specific topics of interest include education, health, and social protection; measuring quality of public service delivery; program evaluation; and improving the effectiveness of public spending (with a focus on developing countries). Courses taught include undergraduate and graduate classes in development economics, program evaluation, and the economics of education.


additional information:

Disrupting Education? Experimental Evidence on Technology-Aided Instruction in India
by Karthik Muralidharan, Abhijeet Singh, Alejandro J. Ganimian

Technoskeptics pay heed: A computer-assisted learning program that delivers learning results
blog post from the World Bank's David Evans

Mindspark web site


Note: You may also be interested in resources from an earlier BBL featuring principals involved in Mindspark.