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Individualized Self-learning Program to Improve Primary Education: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment in Bangladesh
Last registered on April 23, 2018

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Individualized Self-learning Program to Improve Primary Education: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment in Bangladesh
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0002925
Initial registration date
April 21, 2018
Last updated
April 23, 2018 7:23 PM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Tokyo
PI Affiliation
University of Tokyo
PI Affiliation
JICA Research Institute
PI Affiliation
Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies
Additional Trial Information
Status
Completed
Start date
2015-03-05
End date
2018-01-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
This paper reports on the results from a field experiment that tests the effectiveness of the globally popular Kumon learning method in improving the cognitive and non-cognitive abilities of disadvantaged pupils in Bangladesh. Using a randomized control trial design, we study the impact of this individualized self-learning approach among third and fourth graders studying at BRAC non-formal primary schools. The results show that students of both grades in the treatment schools record substantial and significant improvement in their cognitive abilities as measured by two different mathematics tests (Kumon diagnostic test score per minute and proficiency test score) after a period of 8 months, compared to students in the control schools. In terms of non-cognitive abilities, the results give some evidence of positive and significant impacts, particularly on the self-confidence of the pupils. Interestingly, this intervention also had a positive and significant impact on the ability of teachers’ to assess their students’ performance. Overall our results suggest the wider applicability of a properly designed non-formal education program in solving the learning crisis in developing countries.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Kawarazaki, Hikaru et al. 2018. "Individualized Self-learning Program to Improve Primary Education: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment in Bangladesh." AEA RCT Registry. April 23. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.2925-1.0.
Former Citation
Kawarazaki, Hikaru et al. 2018. "Individualized Self-learning Program to Improve Primary Education: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment in Bangladesh." AEA RCT Registry. April 23. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2925/history/28706.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
In Bangladesh, Kumon Method of learning has been introduced in selected BPS among the third and fourth grade of students as a supplementary module in mathematics. Kumon aims to enable students to develop advanced academic and self-learning ability by ensuring that children are always studying at a level that is just right for them. In particular, students are assigned to an initial level based on individual performance in a diagnostic test (DT) provided by Kumon Institute, not on the basis of the school grade or age. Kumon Method is uniquely designed to set the initial level slightly lower than the concurrent maximum capacity of the student in order to: i) ensure full understanding of the basic concepts as a firm building block of cognitive ability development; and ii) stimulate students’ motivation to continue to study, which also works for the development of their non-cognitive ability such as self-confidence and self-esteem. Kumon’s mathematics program is divided into 20 levels (from Level 6A to Level O), and five elective levels, comprising a total of 4,420 double-sided worksheets. All of these worksheets are carefully designed, starting from simple counting to advanced mathematics, with the level of difficulty increasing in small steps.8 Worksheets contain example questions with hints, which help students to acquire step by step problem solving skills by themselves. As a result, students can absorb material beyond their school grade level through self-learning, and advance to studying high school level material at an early age. Importantly, slower learners can spend more time on the basics without being rushed to move on to advanced level of materials beyond their level of understanding.

Another feature of Kumon Method of Learning is a tracking system of each student’s progress and achievements using personalized record books. Kumon instructors do not teach in the class and hence, do not need extensive prior experience to conduct daily quizzes to monitor the understanding and progress of each student. This is because Kumon worksheets are laid out in small steps to enable students to self-learn and there is a determined standard time per worksheet to judge whether students can advance to the next level or should repeat a level. Having detailed progress reports on the worksheets allows instructors to obtain more objective information about their students’ abilities, and their understanding of the mathematics involved.
Intervention Start Date
2015-08-15
Intervention End Date
2016-04-13
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
(1) Cognitive outcomes such as achievement test scores from the Kumon method of learning and nation-wide public examinations; (2) non-cognitive outcomes such as self-esteem, grit, and other psycho-social measures; and (3) teachers' assessment skill of students.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The intervention is a randomized controlled trial with one treatment and one control arm.
Experimental Design Details
We randomly selected 34 BPSs having third and fourth graders from the 179 BRAC nonformal primary schools in Dhaka and surrounding areas, whereby 17 schools received Kumon materials and 17 schools did not receive these materials so that they could serve as treatment and control schools, respectively.10 The resulting sample breakdown by grades is as follows: 19 (out of 48 schools) for the third grade and 15 (out of 131 schools) for the fourth grade are tracked in our study.11 In total, our study started tracking roughly 1,000 students in these 34 schools. In these schools, we choose only one of the two class shifts (either morning or afternoon), with an average class size of 30 students. The intervention for the treated school students consists of a 30 minute session on Kumon study prior to the beginning of their regular lesson. Thus, students in the treatment schools come to school earlier than usual during the experiment periods.
Randomization Method
Randomization has been done in office by a computer using a random number generator.
Randomization Unit
School level randomization
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
34 schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
1,000 pupils
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
17 schools treatment, and 17 schools control
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
0.4 standard deviation
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
The research ethics committee at the University of Tokyo
IRB Approval Date
2015-09-18
IRB Approval Number
15-90
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
April 13, 2016, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
January 31, 2018, 12:00 AM +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
34 Schools
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
1,004
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
17 schools control, and 17 schools treatment
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
No
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS