NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

What Makes an Effective Teacher? Quasi-Experimental Evidence

Victor Lavy

NBER Working Paper No. 16885
Issued in March 2011
NBER Program(s):   CH   ED   LS

This paper measures empirically the relationship between classroom teaching practices and student achievements. Based on primary- and middle-school data from Israel, I find very strong evidence that two important elements of teaching practices cause student achievements to improve. In particular, classroom teaching that emphasizes the instilment of knowledge and comprehension, often termed "traditional"-style teaching, has a very strong and positive effect on test scores, particularly among girls and pupils of low socioeconomic background. Second, the use of classroom techniques that endow pupils with analytical and critical skills ("modern" teaching) has a very large positive payoff, evidenced in improvement of test scores across subgroups differentiated by gender and socioeconomic background. However, a second element of modern teaching, instilment of the capacity for individual study, has no effect while transparency, fairness, and proper feedback in teachers' conduct with their students improve marginally academic performance, especially among boys. Apart from identifying "what works" in the classroom, these findings yield two insights for the debate about the merit of "traditional" versus "modern" approaches to teaching, which are often discussed as rival classroom pedagogical approaches. First, both may coexist in the classroom production function of knowledge. Second, it is best to target the two teaching practices differentially to students of different genders and abilities. The effect of the effective teaching practices estimated is very large, especially in comparison with that of other potential interventions such as reducing class size or increasing school hours of instruction.

download in pdf format
   (745 K)

email paper

This paper is available as PDF (745 K) or via email.

This paper was revised on December 5, 2011

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w16885

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Taylor and Tyler w16877 The Effect of Evaluation on Performance: Evidence from Longitudinal Student Achievement Data of Mid-career Teachers
Rockoff, Jacob, Kane, and Staiger w14485 Can You Recognize an Effective Teacher When You Recruit One?
Kane, Taylor, Tyler, and Wooten w15803 Identifying Effective Classroom Practices Using Student Achievement Data
Pop-Eleches and Urquiola w16886 Going to a Better School: Effects and Behavioral Responses
Fryer w16850 Teacher Incentives and Student Achievement: Evidence from New York City Public Schools
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us