Anna McDougall, George Orlov, Douglas McKee, 10 December 2020

Many higher learning institutions have shifted to remote learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although research has found that online classes can be just as effective as in-person classes, there is evidence that suggests disadvantaged students may perform relatively worse. This column compares student performance on a set of standard assessments at four PhD-granting institutions in the US before and after the switch to online classes. It finds little evidence that disadvantaged groups were further disadvantaged by the pandemic in their college learning. Instructor experience with online teaching and the use of active-learning techniques have a positive effect on student outcomes.

Eric Hanushek, Lavinia Kinne, Philipp Lergetporer, Ludger Woessmann, 02 August 2020

Differences in student achievement are strongly related to both future individual earnings and national economic growth. Cultural traits that underlie intertemporal decision-making may affect how much students learn. Using data for close to two million students across 49 countries during 2000–2018, this column looks at levels of patience and risk-taking and its effect on student performance. A positive effect of patience and a negative effect of risk-taking can account for two-thirds of the cross-country variation in student achievement. Among migrant students, patience and risk-taking levels of the students’ countries of origin had remarkably similar effects on educational performance in the host country.

Annika B. Bergbauer, Eric Hanushek, Ludger Woessmann, 18 September 2018

School systems increasingly use student assessments for accountability purposes. By combining accountability reforms with international student achievement data over the past 15 years, this column shows that the expansion of standardised testing with external comparisons has improved student achievement in maths, science, and reading, while internal testing or teacher inspectorates without external comparisons have not. 

CEPR Policy Research