Do Teachers in Developing Countries Really ?Teach to the Top?? A Classroom-Observation Protocol to Characterize Heterogeneity in Student-Teacher Interactions
Alejandro Ganimian

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



New York University

Primary Discipline

Many believe that teachers in low- and middle-income countries focus too much on students at the top of the achievement distribution, consequently paying insufficient attention to students who struggle with the material, who are in greater need of support. This perception, however, has not been empirically examined, but largely inferred from contextual factors that encourage teachers to direct their effort towards students who are more likely to stay in school, and from persistently low levels of student achievement, which appear to be consistent with many students deriving very little benefit from attending school regularly. I propose to develop, pilot, and validate a classroom-observation protocol in secondary schools in Bangladesh to understand: (a) whether teachers are more likely to interact (e.g., asking/answering questions, assigning classwork, or providing support) with high-achieving students than with their low-achieving peers, or to have different types of interactions with these two groups (e.g., using harsh v. encouraging language, asking yes/no v. open-ended questions); (b) the extent to which these interactions can be measured consistently (i.e., distinguishing true differences in interactions across teachers from other factors, such as the difficulty of the aspects being observed or rater stringency); (c) whether teacher characteristics (e.g., education and experience) and student characteristics (e.g., sex and socio-economic status) can predict the nature of student-teacher interactions; and (d) whether students who interact more and/or more meaningfully with their teachers have better academic and social-emotional outcomes (e.g., self-efficacy, locus of control, growth mindset, and grit).
About Alejandro Ganimian
Alejandro J. Ganimian is an Assistant Professor of Applied Psychology and Economics at New York University?s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. His research focuses on how school systems in developing countries can ensure all children acquire basic skills by improving children?s preparation for school, supporting teachers to cater to heterogeneous student groups, and helping principals use data to inform management practices. He pursues this agenda through randomized field trials in Latin America and South Asia. He leverages his training in economics to estimate the impact of interventions and in psychometrics to develop measures of academic and social-emotional development. His research has been published in the American Economic Review, the World Bank Economic Review, the Review of Educational Research, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, and the Journal for Research on Educational Effectiveness. He holds a doctorate in Quantitative Policy Analysis in Education from Harvard University, where he was a fellow in the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy; a master?s in Educational Research from the University of Cambridge, where he was a Gates Scholar; and a bachelor?s in International Politics from Georgetown University. He was also a postdoctoral fellow at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL). He is a Non-Resident Fellow at the Brookings Institution? Center for Universal Education; an Invited Researcher of the regional offices of J-PAL for Latin America and the Caribbean and South Asia; and an Advisory Board member of the Organization of Ibero-American States for Education, Science, and Culture (OEI).

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