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Improving the quality of education in developing countries: An experimental evaluation of teacher training programs in El Salvador

English title Improving the quality of education in developing countries: An experimental evaluation of teacher training programs in El Salvador
Applicant Brunetti Aymo
Number 197576
Funding scheme Project funding
Research institution Volkswirtschaftliches Institut Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Economics
Start/End 01.01.2021 - 31.12.2024
Approved amount 750'000.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Economics
Sociology

Keywords (11)

pedagogical content knowledge; teacher training; productivity in education; pedagogical knowledge; teaching crisis; education quality; learning crisis; development economics; content knowledge; El Salvador; randomized controlled trial

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Mangelndes inhaltliches und didaktisches Wissen von Lehrpersonen ist ein wichtiger Grund für die tiefe Produktivität der öffentlichen Schulen in vielen Entwicklungsländern. Mit einem experimentellen Ansatz evaluiert das Projekt die relative Effektivität verschiedener Formen der Weiterbildung für Lehrkräfte.
Lay summary
Inhalt und Ziel des Forschungsprojekts

In jüngerer Vergangenheit hat in den meisten Entwicklungsländern der Prozentsatz der Bevölkerung mit obligatorischer Schulausbildung sehr stark zugenommen. Allerdings hat diese bemerkenswerte Entwicklung das Bildungsniveau bisher nicht signifikant verbessern können, so dass die Weltbank von einer globalen "Lernkrise" spricht. Neuere Analysen deuten darauf hin, dass mangelnde inhaltliche und didaktische Fähigkeiten von Lehrpersonen zu den wichtigsten Ursachen dieser Krise gehören. Hier setzt das Projekt an, indem in El Salvador drei verschiedene Formen von Weiterbildungen in Mathematik für Lehrpersonen auf der Primarschulstufe durchgeführt und experimentell evaluiert werden. Das erste Programm fokussiert auf didaktische Ausbildung, das zweite auf inhaltliches Training und das dritte auf eine Kombination von beidem. Am Schluss der Ausbildung werden die drei Gruppen, die an der Intervention teilgenommen haben, ebenso geprüft wie eine Kontrollgruppe, die keine Weiterbildung erhielt. Anschliessend analysiert das Projekt anhand von Kompetenztests, ob und in welchem Ausmass die Schülerinnen und Schüler von der besseren Ausbildung ihrer Lehrpersonen profitieren. Die Resultate sollten eine qualifizierte Aussage darüber zulassen, ob gezielte Weiterbildung für Lehrpersonen zu besseren Bildungsresultaten führt und ggf. welche Form den grössten Zuwachs an Lernerfolg pro eingesetzte Ressourcen verspricht.

Wissenschaftlicher und gesellschaftlicher Kontext


Das Projekt führt die erste experimentelle Studie durch, in der die relative Effektivität von didaktisch und inhaltlich ausgerichteter Weiterbildung für Lehrpersonen in einem Entwicklungsland evaluiert wird. Die Resultate können wichtige Erkenntnisse für die Politikberatung generieren. Sie geben eine Antwort auf die Frage, wie knappe Mittel am effektivsten eingesetzt werden, um der Lernkrise in zahlreichen Entwicklungsländern zu begegnen.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 24.11.2020

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Abstract

Quality education is one of the Sustainable Development Goals advocated by the United Nations, but many developing countries are still far from reaching this target. In the last decades, low- and middle-income countries have made impressive progress in raising school enrollment. Yet, their productivity in converting educational investments into human capital remains low, as international student assessments highlight. In response to these findings, the World Bank dedicated its World Development Report 2018 to what was declared a global "learning crisis". Recent data from Africa, Asia, and Latin America shows that poorly qualified teachers - both in terms of pedagogical knowledge and content knowledge - are a key barrier to more effective schooling systems. The available evidence even suggests that the learning crisis in developing countries is, to a large degree, a direct consequence of a teaching crisis. Without joint efforts, this situation is likely to reproduce itself: Many of today's poorly qualified teachers will continue teaching for years to come and consequently shape tomorrow's teachers. Despite a growing consensus that inadequate teaching quality lies at the heart of the learning crisis, potential solutions to address the issue have remained understudied.Teacher training programs may be a promising strategy to cut through the outlined vicious cycle that plagues many schooling systems. The main goal of our project is to assess the potential of such programs to raise student learning outcomes in a context that is characterized by a twin deficit among teachers: a lack of both pedagogical knowledge and content knowledge. We further aim to analyze how gains in teachers' competencies are passed on to students, and how training programs should be designed to optimize their effectiveness. We are particularly interested in quantifying the relative efficacy of pedagogical and content-related training elements, and whether combining them unfolds relevant complementarities.To study these questions, we collaborate with educational experts from the University of Teacher Education Zug (PH Zug) and Consciente, an NGO specialized in evidence-based schooling projects. Our team of economists, sociologists, and educational scientists has designed a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to be rolled out across 300 primary schools in El Salvador. Its core features three teacher training programs focusing on either (i) pedagogical knowledge, (ii) content knowledge, or (iii) a combination of both inputs, referred to as pedagogical content knowledge. During one school year, 225 primary school math teachers will participate in one of these training programs that are planned to share a common basic framework combining face-to-face meetings, coaching elements, and self-study modules. To quantify the impact of the interventions, we plan to collect comprehensive data on teacher competence (i.e. content knowledge & teaching practices) as well as student learning outcomes in math across two consecutive school years.This project will shed light on possible answers to the important but largely understudied question of how to advance educational quality in a schooling system staffed with poorly qualified teachers. We plan to utilize our insights to advise policymakers and to raise awareness about the value of impact evaluations to strengthen accountability and institutional learning in the development cooperation community.
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