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  • The Effect of Digitalization on School Children Calculated for the First Time

The Effect of Digitalization on School Children Calculated for the First Time

The Effect of Digitalization on School Children Calculated for the First Time

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The HSE Institute of Education together with Yandex completed Russia’s first large-scale experiment assessing the impact of online technology on primary school students’ performance in school. The researchers concluded that online completion of assignments help improve mathematical literacy, particularly among underachieving students.

The study was carried out by the International Laboratory for Education Policy Analysis and the Centre for Psychometrics and Measurement in Education together with Yandex.Uchebnik, with the support of leading experts from Stanford and the University of California.

Over 6,000 third-graders and their teachers from 343 schools in Novosibirsk Oblast and Altay Krai took part in the study

This research project was the first in contemporary Russia to use the ‘gold standard’ for assessing the impact on school education, namely a large-scale experiment. The participants were randomly placed in different experimental conditions. In ordinary interim assessments, the effect in question can’t be ‘cleared’ from many other side factors, and as a result, it is often difficult to determine the real reasons behind certain results. Random distribution helps solve this problem.

In the experimental groups, school students did homework in math and Russian using Yandex.Uchebnik (Yandex.Textbook), which includes over 35,000 assignments for elementary school, on smartphones and computers. The control group did homework in a more traditional way. Psychometrics researchers from the Institute of Education compared the results of both groups in two rounds of tests with iPIPS+, a complex of modern tools.

The researchers’ conclusions dispelled some myths about the digitalization of schools.

‘First, completion of the assignments online impacts the performance positively, and the school students maintain a higher interest in their studies. Second, the new technology may be most useful for underachieving students, who demonstrated the highest improvement in results. Third, we have not monitored any additional workload for teachers due to the introduction of online assignments: they did not spend more time on preparing for lessons and checking the homework. At the same time, they started using some other digital resources in their work more often, in addition to those suggested in the experiment,’ said Andrey Zakharov, Head of the International Laboratory for Education Policy Analysis.

Isak Froumin
Head of the Institute of Education

This study is unique and highly significant. Such complicated experiments help us understand what really works in education and what does not work. The importance of this research is particularly obvious in light of the fact that large-scale changes in education like digitalization have an impact on all families and are often costly. This means that decisions here should be made using evidence-based educational policy. Together with our colleagues from Kazan Federal University, we are discussing the launch of an information platform about ‘reliable’ innovations in education.

The HSE Institute of Education has become one of the world’s leading platforms developing psychometrics – a research field that helps properly design assessment tools, find the best forms of their implementation, and validly interpret their results. The Institute has a master’s programme and a research centre in this field that areheaded by Professor Elena Kardanova.

The Institute also carries out comprehensive research on the development, prospects, and problems of education digitalization in Russia.  Particularly, this year, a new master’s programme, Digital Transformation of Education, which has been launched by the Laboratory for Digital Transformation of Education, is enrolling the first students. One of HSE University’s eight ‘White Books of Education’ is dedicated to expert discussions and analysis in this field, and in late September, the secondRussian-Chinese conference on digital transformation in education will take place at the Institute of Education.

Digitalization of school education is entering a new level as prominent IT players get more involved. Since its launch, Yandex.Uchebnik has planned not only developing its product, but also carrying out fundamental research together with leading research teams.

‘Importantly, the outcomes of this effort will be useful for all parties involved—teachers, researchers, and the Uchebnik team—for its further development,’ said Evgeny Lurie, Product Director of Yandex.Uchebnik.

We are proud to have been able to implement this big fifteen-month project together with the Institute of Education

According to Evgeny Lurie, real field research is hard work. ‘The project involved dozens of professionals from our two organizations, as well as local coordinators and education development institutions.’

See also:

Fighting Academic Failures: How to Prevent Underachievement at School

Children from undereducated, low-income families face a greater risk of poor academic performance. But schools are capable of decreasing these risks. Experts from the Center of Social and Economic School Development at the HSE Institute of Education have studiedinternational experience in addressing these challenges.

Impact of Education Quality Research on Policy Is Not as Significant as You Might Think

At a seminar held at HSE as part of the Days of the International Academy of Education in Moscow, Professor Gustavo E. Fishman (University of Arizona) likened international comparative studies of education quality to horse racing and discussed how these studies do not have as significant an impact on educational policy as is commonly believed.

Russian Schools Are Changing Rapidly, But Not Always for the Better

According to a report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) entitled Measuring Innovation in Education 2019: What Has Changed in the Classroom?, Russia ranked among the top three countries where schools are changing most rapidly.

HSE’s Institute of Education Collaborates with Global School Laboratory

The Institute of Education at HSE has signed an agreement outlining collaboration with the online platform, GlobalLab - a community of teachers and students who work on joint research projects over the Internet.

Ten Factors Ensuring Success in Educational Systems According to PISA Author

On April 14, 2017, Andreas Schleicher, Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills at OECD, spoke at the XVIII April Conference at Higher School of Economics (HSE). In 1999, he invented the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), one of the biggest international comparative studies of education quality. His honorary lecture was dedicated to global trends in the transformation of national education systems.

HSE Researchers Compare Performance in Mathematics for Children Starting School in Russia, Scotland and England

Researchers from the HSE Institute of Education have adapted and begun using an assessment tool for comparing the knowledge and skills of children starting school. Their first results were obtained from a sample of children starting school in Russia and the UK.


of Russian parents help their school-age children with their homework, or even do it with them.

It’s More Useful to Compare Students from Different Regions of a Single Country than from Different Countries

Professor Martin Carnoy of Stanford University and visiting professor at the Higher School of Economics, and Tatiana Khavenson, Research Fellow at the HSE Institute of Education, were among the authors of the report ‘An Analysis of the Impact of Education Policies on Student Achievement in the United States’, which was recently presented in Washington, DC. The key provisions of this report are of use when it comes to analyzing the situation in Russian education.


of teachers believe that skills in the field of computer and information technologies are what they lack most when it comes to working effectively.


of teachers in schools are currently younger than 30 years of age.