Non-cognitive skills like innovation and teamwork have gained importance in the education policies of many countries today. While innovation is considered a central driver of a country’s economic growth, teamwork skills help create a globally competitive workforce. However, the evidence on how these skills can be taught in schools is scarce.
I will be conducting a randomized evaluation of a program in India called “Think and Make” (TM) which works with eighth-grade students to develop these skills. Students participating in the TM program work in teams to identify local community problems in the health, agriculture, and education sectors, develop prototypes of their ideas, and build potential solutions. I will be borrowing measures from management and psychology literature to gauge growth in these skills.
The schools where this program will be conducted were established as part of an aggressive affirmative action program in India. The student body in these schools belongs to the former untouchable castes, which are collectively classified as scheduled castes (SCs), and socially and economically marginalized indigenous ethnic groups that are classified as scheduled tribes (STs). These students are on average two years behind in education outcomes and as adults earn 25 percentage points less income in comparison to advantaged groups mainly due to caste-based discrimination and persisting intergenerational inequalities.
TM program can help become these students self-employed which could help generate wealth at the grassroots for their communities. This study can help inform policymakers on education interventions that can enable students from disadvantaged backgrounds to have a more empowered career path. Finally, this study can push the frontiers of economics and education literature by evaluating the effectiveness of pedagogy that develops non-cognitive skills, for which the evidence has been increasingly pointing out the causal impact on individuals’ life and economic outcomes.