Teacher effort is critical for student learning. In many developing countries, however, teachers often perceive only a weak mapping between their effort and what students learn. I conduct an experimental evaluation of a psycho-social intervention that targets teachers’ beliefs about their role in producing student learning. I study the extent to which this intervention affects teachers’ beliefs, their effort in class, and their students’ academic and cognitive performance. I devise a novel experimental task to elicit teachers’ beliefs, through revealed preference, about the relationship between their teaching effort and the performance of students in their classroom. I find that the intervention induced a 17% increase in teachers’ beliefs about their ability to increase learning, as measured by the revealed preference task. Treated teachers exert greater effort at the intensive margin, scoring 0.13 SD higher on an index of classroom effort. They also spend more time grading student work and provide more detailed feedback to students. Finally, I find that the intervention raised student learning by 0.09 SD in classrooms taught by treated teachers. These findings suggest that teachers’ beliefs can serve as a powerful lever for changing teaching practice and raising learning levels in developing countries.
Funding: Weiss Fund for Research in Development Economics, The Agency Fund, Teachers College Economics of Education Program Research Grant
Reshaping beliefs about ourselves and others: Experimental evidence from civil servants in Pakistan (with Daniel Chen, Sultan Mehmood, Shaheen Naseer) (AEA RCT Registry)
Parental information and investments in children’s human capital