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Mobile Monitoring for Teachers: Can Calls Improve Learning Outcomes for Primary School Students in Niger
Initial registration date
September 22, 2018
May 18, 2020 4:24 AM EDT
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Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
In remote rural areas of developing countries, teacher absenteeism is a widespread problem for both governmental and non-governmental programs, often due to long distances, remote monitoring budgets and weak institutions. Simple technologies, such as mobile phones, could potentially help policymakers to overcome the constraints associated with monitoring teachers' attendance. At the same time, mobile phones may not be effective in improving teacher attendance if they are not penalized for absenteeism, or increased monitoring via mobile phones crowds out intrinsic motivation. An experiment that called teachers, the village chief and two students in the context of an adult education program significantly increased students' test scores, although the mechanisms were difficult to disentangle. In partnership with the Ministry of Education and a research firm in Niger, this study will evaluate the impact of a mobile phone intervention on teacher attendance, motivation and student learning in the context of primary schools in Niger. Schools will be randomly assigned to one of two interventions designed to address the constraints associated with teacher attendance and performance in Niger, with a pure control
Aker, Jenny. 2020. "Mobile Monitoring for Teachers: Can Calls Improve Learning Outcomes for Primary School Students in Niger." AEA RCT Registry. May 18.
Based upon previous work, there are two primary interventions. The first intervention is a simple monitoring call, whereby bi-weekly calls will be made the primary school teacher(s), the primary school principal, the village chief and the head of the PTA for the school. The calls will ask each stakeholder if class (taught by that teacher for that particular level) was held that week, the number of days held.
The second intervention is a motivational intervention, which will be implemented in a subset of mobile monitoring villages. In this case, randomly selected teachers in monitoring villages will receive a "motivational" message at the end of the monitoring call, thanking them for their work and encouraging them.
The monitoring call will begin approximately 2 months after the start of the school year (January 2019, whereby the school year starts in October), and will occur every two weeks.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Teacher attendance (ie, intensive and extensive margin of attendance, as measured by logs taken by the school principal); timeliness of teacher attendance (ie, hours arrived and leaving); teaching quality (via a Stallings classroom observation method); teacher firing or movement; teacher motivation (as measured by an intrinsic motivation index and behavioral measures; students' attendance (number of students and number of days, according to teacher student attendance logs); students' test scores (as measured by the end of year exam); parental, principal and village chief knowledge about school activities.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Attendance of other (non-called) teachers within the classroom; experimental measures of teacher motivation; experimental measures of community knowledge of school activities; teachers' performance on bi-annual teaching exams
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
84 primary schools within the Tchadoua commune of the Maradi region in Niger will be stratified by rural and urban status and randomly assigned to one of three interventions:
1. Mobile calls. Weekly calls to targeted teachers, principal, village chief and the PTA president to ask questions about teacher attendance
2. Motivational message. In a subset of monitoring villages, teachers will receive a "motivational" message at the end of the bi-weekly monitoring call
3. Pure control. No weekly calls.
All monitoring visits conducted by the Ministry will occur normally.
Experimental Design Details
The randomization will be conducted in an office by a computer.
The cluster is the school level.
Was the treatment clustered?
Sample size: planned number of clusters
The total number of schools in the experimental design is 84. However, we will also collect teacher attendance and student outcome data data from 20 schools in a nearby commune as a means of measuring trends in teacher and student attendance and performance. These additional schools will be non-experimental assigned, but serve as an additional control group.
Sample size: planned number of observations
The units will be approximately 4200 students, 84 principals, 168 teachers, 1500 households.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
There will be 42 schools in the pure control (no calls) and 42 schools in the mobile monitoring treatment. Among the 42 schools, there will be 21 schools that receive additional encouragement messages at the end of the calls.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Approval Date