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Improving secondary school learning outcomes through customized computer‐based supplementary instruction: A randomized evaluation of Mindspark
Last registered on April 27, 2016


Trial Information
General Information
Improving secondary school learning outcomes through customized computer‐based supplementary instruction: A randomized evaluation of Mindspark
Initial registration date
April 27, 2016
Last updated
April 27, 2016 11:07 AM EDT
Primary Investigator
University of California, San Diego
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
J-PAL South Asia
PI Affiliation
University of College London
Additional Trial Information
On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Ever-larger proportions of children are progressing to secondary schooling in India. However, weak foundational academic skills in primary schools have made it very challenging to provide effective instruction in secondary schools. Classroom instruction typically follows the syllabus and textbook in lock-step, but the translation of class time into learning may be very low since many students are far behind grade level competencies. We conducted a randomized evaluation of an innovative technology-led initiative to provide customized computer-based supplementary instruction to students in Grades 4-9, i.e. in primary, middle and lower secondary school grades, in deprived slum areas of Delhi. The evaluation will provide rigorous evidence on a promising model for improving learning outcomes for secondary school students, that combines the strength of remedial education programs with ICT tools for a replicable and scalable model for delivering supplementary secondary school instruction.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Ganimian, Alejandro, Karthik Muralidharan and Abhijeet Singh. 2016. "Improving secondary school learning outcomes through customized computer‐based supplementary instruction: A randomized evaluation of Mindspark." AEA RCT Registry. April 27. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.980-1.0.
Former Citation
Ganimian, Alejandro et al. 2016. "Improving secondary school learning outcomes through customized computer‐based supplementary instruction: A randomized evaluation of Mindspark." AEA RCT Registry. April 27. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/980/history/7950.
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Experimental Details
Mindspark centres are supplementary education centres which deliver instruction in core subjects – Mathematics and Hindi. There are two core components to the intervention: first, a computer-adaptive learning tool (Mindspark) which delivers customized instruction to students based on their actual learning levels; and second, small group instruction through Mindspark instructors on foundational skills in these subjects. The pedagogical focus of the program, both through ICT-based and instructor-led components, is oriented towards gearing instruction at the actual ability levels of children rather than the grade they may be enrolled in. Students attend Mindspark centres 5 days a week for 90 minutes each, divided equally between self-driven computer-based exercises and instruction and small group instruction. At the time of the study, there were four such centres in Delhi. These centres delivered the program at a fee to students at subsidized rates of ~Rs. 200 p.m.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
We administered paper-and-pen assessments of Hindi and Mathematics at both baseline and endline. Tests were designed to capture a wide variation in ability and to be linked across grades and over time. The tests were administered in selected central locations to ensure that testing conditions are similar across the treatment and control groups. In addition to the tests, students also filled out a short self-administered survey with details about socio-economic variables and home inputs into education.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The sample was recruited from schools near the Mindspark centres with a focus on post-primary grades (i.e. grades 6 and above). The study team presented a brief overview of the program in September 2015 and gave out informational materials on Mindspark in schools and invited parents to demonstrations sessions at their local centres on pre-selected dates. At the demonstration, parents were shown around the Mindspark centres and provided details about the daily functioning of the program. Subsequently, parents and children were asked if they would like to join the study. They were informed that the study team will conduct a lottery to waive fees for Mindspark for some of the students immediately and for all non-selected students from March 2016.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization was done in an office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
Randomization was done at the level of the student, within each Mindspark centre.
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
619 students participated in this study.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
There were 314 students in the treatment group and 305 students in the control group.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB00000355; FWA00004495; 151257SX
IRB Name
Institute for Financial Management and Research Human Subject Committee
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
IRB00007107; FWA00014616; IORG0005894
IRB Name
University of California, San Diego Human Research Protections Program
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)