The 3ie-IFPRI seminar series is designed to highlight innovative papers on impact evaluation and facilitate discussion of new impact evaluation research. The seminars are held on one Thursday of each month from 12:30-2:00pm at IFPRI’s Washington DC headquarters (2033 K St. NW). To RSVP to any event, please contact Sara Gustafson (email@example.com)
April 10: Rekindling Learning? The Impact of eReaders on Cognitive Outcomes in Lagos, Nigeria
Speaker: James Habyarimana, Georgetown University
Discussant: Julian Cristia, IDB
Please join via GoToMeeting at the specified time.
Empirical literature on use of technology for student learning typically conflates the ‘gadget effect’ with the ‘content effect’. This paper attempts to disentangle the two effects through a randomized control trial with eReaders in secondary schools in Lagos, Nigeria. We estimate the impacts of three types content provision through eReaders – non-curriculum recreational books, curriculum textbooks, and curriculum-related supplementary material – on adolescent outcomes. We find that six- to eight month exposure to eReaders leads to modest positive impacts on human capital but these impacts are strongly mediated by access to curriculum content. Children who received eReaders with curriculum material had significantly higher cognitive outcomes, as measured by Raven’s Progressive Matrix test. Among these students, those with low reading ability at baseline also exhibit significantly improved reading comprehension. No impacts were detected on math scores. We also detect modest impacts on non-cognitive outcomes such as aspirations for higher education. These results demonstrate that access to cool gadgets can enhance student interest and effort in learning activities. However, this translates into improved learning outcomes only if the right content is made available on these gadgets.