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Arm-wrestling in the classroom: the non-monotonic effects of monitoring teachers


Lichand, Guilherme; Wolf, Sharon (2021). Arm-wrestling in the classroom: the non-monotonic effects of monitoring teachers. Working paper series / Department of Economics 357, University of Zurich.

Abstract

Teacher absenteeism and shirking are common problems in developing countries. While monitoring teachers should ameliorate those problems, mobilizing parents to do so often leads to small or even negative effects on learning outcomes. This paper provides causal evidence that this might result from non-monotonic effects of monitoring teachers. Cross-randomizing nudges to teachers and parents in Ivory Coast – to motivate and monitor teachers directly, and to mobilize parents –, we find that, in schools where parents are nudged, numeracy and literacy test scores improve by an additional school quarter, and student dropouts decrease by over 50%. In contrast, in schools where both are nudged, there is no effect on either learning outcomes or dropouts – even though the latter also fall by nearly 50% where teachers are nudged alone. In those schools, teachers show up less frequently, allocate less time to career development, and target instruction to top students to a greater extent than in schools where only parents are nudged. Monitoring backfires precisely for teachers who were most motivated at baseline, consistent with monitoring intensity eventually crowding out intrinsic motivation. Our results have implications for the design of accountability programs above and beyond education.

Abstract

Teacher absenteeism and shirking are common problems in developing countries. While monitoring teachers should ameliorate those problems, mobilizing parents to do so often leads to small or even negative effects on learning outcomes. This paper provides causal evidence that this might result from non-monotonic effects of monitoring teachers. Cross-randomizing nudges to teachers and parents in Ivory Coast – to motivate and monitor teachers directly, and to mobilize parents –, we find that, in schools where parents are nudged, numeracy and literacy test scores improve by an additional school quarter, and student dropouts decrease by over 50%. In contrast, in schools where both are nudged, there is no effect on either learning outcomes or dropouts – even though the latter also fall by nearly 50% where teachers are nudged alone. In those schools, teachers show up less frequently, allocate less time to career development, and target instruction to top students to a greater extent than in schools where only parents are nudged. Monitoring backfires precisely for teachers who were most motivated at baseline, consistent with monitoring intensity eventually crowding out intrinsic motivation. Our results have implications for the design of accountability programs above and beyond education.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Working Paper
Communities & Collections:03 Faculty of Economics > Department of Economics
Working Paper Series > Department of Economics
Dewey Decimal Classification:330 Economics
JEL Classification:C93, D23, D91, I25
Uncontrolled Keywords:Moral hazard, monitoring, accountability, education
Language:English
Date:February 2021
Deposited On:28 Jul 2020 06:46
Last Modified:19 Feb 2021 11:10
Series Name:Working paper series / Department of Economics
Number of Pages:79
ISSN:1664-705X
Additional Information:Revised version
OA Status:Green
Official URL:https://www.econ.uzh.ch/en/research/workingpapers.html?paper-id=1039

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