One of the most important skills that students must learn in China’s rapidly growing, increasingly globalized, and modern economy is English. While some students are learning English (including reading, speaking, listening, and writing) at a rapid pace, other students are lagging far behind. Failing to acquire English skills, students may have more difficulty finding jobs and earning higher wages.
With few opportunities to acquire quality English language training, what can be done to support students (especially those talented students that make it to college) in China today? One exciting possibility is the emergence of educational technologies that provide students with teacher-less, readily accessible, and high-quality English language learning opportunities unavailable in the past. How educational technologies can best engage these students to maximize the learning of English is, however, an open question.
The purpose of this study is to examine the impacts of providing a popular and highly advanced educational technology (a mobile app that utilizes artificial intelligence in teaching and improving English skills), on the outcomes of college students in China. Specifically, we will examine (a) the impacts of the app on the English skill levels and subsequent related labor market outcomes of the average college youth in China; (b) the impacts of the app on the English skills and labor market outcomes of students from different backgrounds (by poverty level, gender, and achievement level); (c) ways to improve the use of the app so as to maximize impacts for the average student and for students from different backgrounds. To fulfill this purpose, we will partner with an artificial intelligence (AI) company in China that creates and delivers products and services to popularize English learning. Its proprietary AI teacher utilizes cutting-edge deep learning and adaptive learning technologies, big data, well-established education pedagogies and the mobile internet. The company provides its products and services on demand via its mobile apps, primarily its flagship English mobile app. On the company’s platform, AI technologies are seamlessly integrated with diverse learning content incorporating well-established language learning pedagogies, gamified features and strong social elements to deliver an engaging, adaptive learning experience. The app offers a fun, interactive learning environment to motivate and engage its users.
We will conduct an individual-level block RCT. The RCT will involve approximately 900 college students. Among the students, 450 will randomly receive the mobile app and 450 who will not (the control group).