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July 2018

Reducing data collection bias in education research

Kabira Namit's picture
Training for data collectors in Kambia, Sierra Leone. (Photo: Kabira Namit / World Bank)


Collecting data in education can be a tricky business. After spending considerable resources to design a representative study, enlist and train data collectors, and organize the logistics of data collection, we want to ensure that we capture as true a picture of the situation on the ground as possible. This can be particularly challenging when we attempt to measure complex concepts, such as child development, learning outcomes, or the quality of an educational environment.
 
Data can be biased by many factors. For example, the very act of observation by itself can influence behavior. How can we expect a teacher to behave “normally” when outsiders sit in her or his classroom taking detailed notes about everything they do? Social desirability bias, where subjects seek to represent themselves in the most positive light, is another common challenge. Asking a teacher, “Do you hit children in your classroom?” may elicit an intense denial, even if the teacher still has a cane in one hand and the ear of a misbehaving child in another.

Reconciling quality and scale—Online education’s big challenge

Juliana Guaqueta Ospina's picture
Higher education students in Bogota, Colombia.

Guest blog by: Juliana Guaqueta Ospina, an Education Specialist at the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group.

Watching my two-year-old daughter progress from baby words to full sentences, I am already wondering who she will want to be as an adult and what kind of higher education she will need. From my role at IFC, part of the World Bank Group, I see a fast-changing education landscape. Online learning, a $165 billion industry that is growing by 5 percent a year, as reported at IFC’s Global Private Education conference in Cape Town in April, has the potential to be a big disruptor and gamechanger.

When the moment comes, will she choose a traditional, campus-based university, one with a ‘stage on the stage’ imparting words of wisdom to an array of students in a large lecture hall? Or will this model have been made obsolete by the Digital Revolution? Based on trends I observe, I am willing to wager that the campus-based university will still be around. Teachers are too important to go without. However, course curricula are rapidly integrating more online learning elements.

Making work-based learning work

Margo Hoftijzer's picture
Work-based learning has several benefits.

Guest blog by: Margo Hoftijzer, formerly a Senior Economist in the Education Global Practice of the World Bank. ​

Work-based learning is a hot topic when discussing the transition of young graduates from school to work. Whether we talk about apprenticeships, dual vocational education and training, or work placements, it is recognized worldwide that there are strong benefits when students gain real workplace experience before they join the workforce.

The many benefits of work-based learning

When implemented effectively, students don’t only gain relevant practical skills, but they also strengthen essential socio-emotional skills, such as the ability to work in teams, problem solving, and time management. Firms benefit as well. They can tailor the programs to ensure that students acquire those skills that are most relevant for their enterprises, and they get to know their trainees well so that they can select the best for recruitment later. Moreover, during the period of work-based learning itself, firms benefit from the trainees’ contributions to the work processes of the enterprise, usually at low costs.   

Socio-Emotional Skills Wanted! – New Big Data Evidence from India

Saori Imaizumi's picture


We all hear about the importance of “socio-emotional skills” when looking for a job. Employers are said to be looking for individuals who are hardworking, meet deadlines, are reliable, creative, collaborative … the list goes on depending on the occupation. In recent years, it seems, these skills have become equally important as technical skills. But do employers really care about these soft skills when hiring? If so, what type of personality do they favor?