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How effective are computer-based teacher training programs? Evidence from a randomized controlled trial in El Salvador
Last registered on October 15, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
How effective are computer-based teacher training programs? Evidence from a randomized controlled trial in El Salvador
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004092
Initial registration date
April 11, 2019
Last updated
October 15, 2020 7:04 AM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Bern
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Bern
PI Affiliation
University of Bern
PI Affiliation
University of Bern
PI Affiliation
University of Bern
PI Affiliation
University of Bern
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2019-03-11
End date
2021-06-25
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Research on basic education in developing countries has recently been shifting its focus from accessibility to schooling towards the quality of schooling. Inevitably, this will put the performance of teachers at the center of the debate. While recent data from African countries, India and El Salvador document alarmingly low levels of teacher content knowledge, we lack rigorous evidence as to how this problem may be tackled. This field experiment aims at providing novel insights on the effectiveness of subject-based teacher training programs. The evaluated intervention targets primary school math teachers and consists of a five-month in-service training combining (1) computer-assisted self-studying and (2) monthly workshops. The design of the study allows to identify the causal effect of the implemented teacher training program on the content knowledge of participants and to examine the persistency of the effect over the course of one year.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Brunetti, Aymo et al. 2020. "How effective are computer-based teacher training programs? Evidence from a randomized controlled trial in El Salvador." AEA RCT Registry. October 15. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.4092-3.0.
Former Citation
Brunetti, Aymo et al. 2020. "How effective are computer-based teacher training programs? Evidence from a randomized controlled trial in El Salvador." AEA RCT Registry. October 15. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/4092/history/77708.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The intervention is an in-service teacher training program implemented by the NGO Consciente. It targets voluntarily participating primary school teachers that teach basic math to students of grades 3 to 6.

The teacher training program has two elements: 1) Self-studying using computer-assisted learning software, and 2) participation in four workshops where the material covered in the self-study modules is recapped and discussed together with expert teachers.

Importantly, both the self-studying and the attendance in workshops are incentivized, meaning that the participants get compensated for each computer-assisted learning module they successfully complete as well as for their attendance in the monthly workshops.
Intervention Start Date
2019-04-11
Intervention End Date
2019-08-23
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Math skills of primary school teachers measured via pencil and paper assessments covering the local curriculum of grades 2 -- 6. We measure math ability of teachers in three waves (baseline, endline, and follow-up). The endline assessment is administered to the teachers shortly after the completion of the training in Sept./Oct. 2019, while the follow-up test is conducted one year later in November 2020.

[Originally, we planned to assess students in Sept./Oct. 2020. We cancelled the student assessments due to the COVID-19 pandemic.]
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
[Originally, we planned to collect monitoring data during the school year 2020, incl. class cancellation rates and student attendance. We cancelled these monitoring operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.]
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Starting point are all primary schools in Morazan, excluding the 50 smallest schools with only one or two teachers covering grades 3--6. The NGO sent out invitations to all eligible teachers in these schools, who were asked to register via telephone, internet or filling out a registration form.

Based on these registrations the applicants were invited to an information meeting in March 2019, where an unannounced baseline math assessment was conducted. Some of the applicants took exactly the same assessment during a representative survey in September 2018 (about 6 months before), and therefore only completed the registration and received additional information about the program.

Based on the baseline assessments, the worst performing applicant of every school was selected; applicants were informed that participation in the March-meeting did not guarantee admission to the program, but the pre-selection criteria were not communicated to them. Following this procedure 175 teachers from 175 different schools across Morazan remained in the sample.

Stratifying on baseline scores and teacher gender, the 175 teachers were randomly assigned to the either the control or treatment group. This gives 87 teachers that participate in the program and 88 teachers constituting the control group.

To assess the impact (and its persistency) on the math content knowledge of teachers, an endline assessment and a follow-up assessment will be conducted. The endline assessment is administered to teachers shortly after the end of the program in Sept./Oct. 2019, while the follow-up assessment will take place in November 2020.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in the office using Stata (Version 14.0/SE).
Randomization Unit
We randomize on the teacher level stratifying on their gender and baseline score. Note that the pre-selection based on the baseline score leaves only one teacher per school in the sample. Hence, for teachers the randomization of the treatment was not clustered.
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
175 teachers (and schools).
Sample size: planned number of observations
88 teachers (and schools) in the control group, 87 teachers (and schools) in the treatment group.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
88 teachers (and schools) in the control group, 87 teachers (and schools) in the treatment group.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
MDE_TEACHERS = 0.23--0.30 standard deviations. Calculations based on formula by Bloom (2007) and the following parameter values: power=80%; alpha (level of significance)=0.05; R-squared : 0.5--0.7; P (share of control units)=0.5; n (total observations)=175.
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Ethikkommission der Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaftlichen Fakultät der Universität Bern
IRB Approval Date
2019-03-28
IRB Approval Number
052019