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Karthik Muralidharan

Karthik Muralidharan, the Tata Chancellor’s Endowed Chair in Economics and UCSD Economics Department faculty member has published new research – “Disrupting Education? Experimental Evidence on Technology-Aided instruction in India” - in the American Economic Review.

This work is joint with Abhijeet Singh and Alejandro Ganimian.

The authors present experimental evidence on the impact of a technology-led instructional program (called Mindspark) that was designed to address several constraints to effective pedagogy in developing countries. The context of the study was students using an after-school Mindspark center in Delhi, India.  While access to the centers usually requires a fee, this study used a lottery to provide randomly-selected middle-school students free access to the centers. In independently conducted tests in Hindi and math students were observed to have improved their test scores dramatically in both subjects.

The results are important.  As Karthik Muralidharan points out “There is enormous variation in student learning levels within the same classroom in many developing country settings, which makes it very difficult for even motivated teachers to effectively cater to such variation.  The promise of personalized technology-enabled instruction is especially high in such settings.  The effect sizes we find are among the largest effects seen in developing-country education research in the past two decades, and we find that all students gain similarly from the program“.

These results are from an efficacy study conducted in a sample of 619 students.  Much further research is necessary to test if these impacts can be achieved at a larger scale. In ongoing work funded by the RISE (Research on Improving Systems of Education) program, Muralidharan is now testing the impact of Mindspark at a larger scale of close to 10,000 students when implemented within public schools catering to low income students.  He is also working closely with policy makers to disseminate these research findings and translate evidence into policy.