Which Students Benefit from Independent Practice? Experimental Evidence from a Math Software in Private Schools in India

Abstract

This study is one of the first evaluations of independent (i.e., self-guided) practice in math in a developing country. We randomly assigned 4,461 students in grades 4-7 in “unaided” private schools across seven Indian cities who were using a computer-assisted learning software to: (a) a control group, in which they moved from one unit to the next upon completion; or (b) a treatment group, in which they had to complete practice exercises before progressing to the next topic. After six months, the additional practice had a precisely estimated null effect on the math achievement of the average student. However, treatment students with low initial performance outperformed their control counterparts by 0.14 standard deviations (SDs). Our results suggest that independent practice may help private-school students from relatively well-off families in need of catching up with their peers.

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