Persistence of gains in learning from computer assisted learning (CAL): evidence from a randomized experiment in rural schools in Shaanxi province in China

Author(s): Wang, Jiafu; Mo, Di; Zhang, Linxiu; Shi, Yaojiang; Huang, Weiming; Rozelle, Scott; Boswell, Matthew

Date: 2014

Pages: 42 p.


Computer assisted learning programs (CAL) have been shown to be effective in improving educational outcomes among students. However, the existing studies on CAL have almost all been conducted over a short period of time. There is very little evidence on how the impact of CAL programs evolves over time. In response, the authors conducted a clustered randomized experiment involving 2741 boarding students in 72 rural schools in China to evaluate impacts of CAL programs over the long term. The results indicate that a CAL program that was implemented for one year and a half among third and fifth grade students increased student standardized math scores by 0.25 standard deviations for third graders and 0.26 standard deviations for fifth graders. In addition, we have shown that students gained in math learning in both CAL Phase I (which ran for one semester in spring 2011) and CAL Phase II (which ran for both semesters of the 2011--‐2012 academic year) programs. By testing for heterogeneous effects, the authors find that the CAL intervention worked well for both the poorer performing and better performing students in the third and fifth grades. They also find that the third grade girls seem to have improved more than the boys in math in the short term (CAL Phase I).

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