NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Learning Job Skills from Colleagues at Work: Evidence from a Field Experiment Using Teacher Performance Data

John P. Papay, Eric S. Taylor, John H. Tyler, Mary Laski

NBER Working Paper No. 21986
Issued in February 2016
NBER Program(s):   ED   LS

We study on-the-job learning among classroom teachers, especially learning skills from coworkers. Using data from a new field experiment, we document meaningful improvements in teacher job performance when high- and low-performing teachers working at the same school are paired and asked to work together on improving the low-performer’s skills. In particular, pairs are asked to focus on specific skills identified in the low-performer’s prior performance evaluations. In the classrooms of low-performing teachers treated by the intervention, students scored 0.12 standard deviations higher than students in control classrooms. These improvements in teacher performance persisted, and perhaps grew, in the year after treatment. Empirical tests suggest the improvements are likely the result of low-performing teachers learning skills from their partner.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21986

 
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