Is Shadow Education Good for Us?
Prashant Loyalka is a visiting Leading Research Fellow at the HSE Institute for Education and the International Laboratory for Education Policy Analysis. His research article, ‘Does Shadow Education Help Students Prepare for College?’ will be published in the International Journal of Educational Development Vol 49, in July 2016. In an interview with HSE News Service, Dr Loyalka talked about his research into the advantages and shortcomings of shadow education and about why American parents send their kids to after-school Russian math class.
— Could you please share with us the main ideas and results in your article?
— Our paper estimates the causal effects of shadow education on high school student achievement. Using a unique dataset and quasi-experimental methods, we find that students, on average, do not benefit from participating in shadow education. However, at the same time, we find that shadow education positively impacts high-achieving but not low-achieving students, contributing to inequality in college access. Finally, we find that the lack of positive impacts for low-achieving students is not because of substitution of time from other studies, but rather may be due to the fact that low-achieving students receive lower quality shadow education.
— How was the study arranged?
— The study was done in collaboration with Andrey Zakharov, who is a senior researcher at the HSE. Andrey led a large-scale, representative survey in three regions of Russia in May 2010 (Pskovskaya and Yaroslavskaya oblasts and Krasnoyarsky krai). He and I were both interested in understanding the role of shadow education at the high school level and how it led to differences in performance on the USE. Our joint interest of course led to this study.
The study was also financially supported within the framework of a subsidy granted to the HSE by the Government of the Russian Federation for the implementation of the Global Competitiveness Programme.
— What recommendations you would make on the basis of the findings to the Russian government, the ministry of education, universities, teachers, parents and school leavers applying for university? Do you think we should try to avoid shadow education and if so how?
— I would recommend that parents and students try their best to pay careful attention to the quality of different shadow education programmes and find the programme that best suits their particular needs. Policymakers may also wish to periodically evaluate a few of the larger shadow education programmes and continue to monitor which programmes are appropriate for different kinds of students. Parents and policymakers can also encourage shadow education programmes to be more transparent about their curricula and teaching practices and to provide more evidence about why their programmes are effective.
Furthermore, although parents and students are concerned about performing well on the competitive entrance exam, they may wish to consider whether shadow education programmes are merely "teaching to the test" (that is, just helping students answer test items) or whether they actually improve student learning and interest in learning in the long run.
— How widespread is shadow education in other countries? Do you know examples of reducing it to increase equal opportunities in education for all students?
— Shadow education has grown rapidly in the last few decades and is now widespread in many countries, especially those with competitive entrance exams like the USE. It is estimated that by 2018, students and their families worldwide will spend—at all levels of schooling—over $100 billion annually on shadow education (Forbes 2012), but the number is probably even higher.
I do not know of any successful attempts to reduce shadow education so as to increase equal opportunities for students. Indeed, because shadow education is part of the private sector, it is difficult for policymakers to regulate. Policymakers often try to adjust the content or format of entrance exams to reduce the potentially heterogeneous impacts of participating in shadow education among students from higher and lower socioeconomic backgrounds, but this can be difficult to do.
— What are your research plans?
— I am working on several projects right now. One project, also in collaboration with the HSE and researchers from China, India, and the US, is to examine how much students are learning in higher education and what factors contribute to student learning. I am also conducting a study on how to best design teacher performance pay so that it not only improves student achievement but also raises the achievement of low, mid, and high performing students alike. I am conducting a similar study on how to use incentives at the school-level to improve the quality of vocational schooling in China. I am moreover conducting the first large-scale randomized evaluation of a teacher professional development programme outside of the United States — the national teacher training programme in China — and how to better design teacher professional development programmes so that they are indeed effective. Finally, I am working on a number of papers related to gender differences in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
— What are your impressions on living and working in Moscow?
— I greatly enjoy Moscow. It is a vibrant city, one with great history and culture. I very much enjoy working with my colleagues at HSE — they are incredibly hard-working and talented. I have learned a lot in my interactions with them.
— What are the strongest and most attractive sides of the Russian education?
— Russia is of course famous for its math and science education, especially at the K-12 levels. Russia has also produced many brilliant scientists and engineers — that is why I am keen to understand more about the quality of different engineering programs at the university level in Russia and what factors lead to higher learning outcomes for students.
As a father, I am also personally interested in the way in which Russian teachers teach math and science. Right now, there is a trend in the United States for families to send their kids to after-school Russian math programmes — programmes that teach students how to learn math through the Russian instructional style.
— What do you see as the advantages of getting a diploma in one of the Russian universities now?
— Having ties with the HSE for several years now, I see how quickly the university is improving its course offerings, intensifying its research into new and interesting areas, and is increasingly become a hub for international collaboration. I can see that the students, especially at the graduate level, are directly affected by this dynamic energy. This exposure will give them every opportunity to learn skills that will be useful either in academia or in the private sector.
— How is it living and working in Moscow being an international expert?
— It is great. I only wish I knew Russian and could travel more throughout this beautiful country.
Anna Chernyakhovskaya, specially for HSE News service
How are students and graduates adjusting and adapting to the realities in their educational and career trajectories? What role does culture play in the sociology of education? How are attitudes towards higher education changing? These are just some of the many questions being addressed over the course a two-day conference entitled ‘Cultural Sociology and Education: Meanings, Choices and Trajectories’ that is being held on December 1-2 at the HSE Institute of Education in Moscow. HSE News Service has spoken to two conference participants, James Hurlbert of Yale University and Amy Binder from University of California, San Diego.
A good knowledge of algebra and geometry helps schoolchildren to solve some other types of tasks, including applied ones. These are the findings made by researchers from HSE, Stanford, and Michigan State University in a joint study.
Portrait galleries of renowned scientists, research laboratories right next to large classrooms and auditoriums, educational programmes for students and principals – these are just a few of the things discussed during an excursion around the HSE Institute of Education as part of the Open House project. Victoria Malova, a second-year student in the Evidence-Based Education Policy master’s programme, and Denis Federiakin, a second-year student in the Measurement in Psychology and Education master’s programme, served as the tour guides for the day.
From October 20-22, 2016, the Russian Association of Higher Education Researchers held its 7th International Conference ‘University between Global Challenges and Local Commitments’ at HSE Moscow. This annual event brings together researchers and educators who are interested in higher education development to discuss challenges and goals facing universities and their stakeholders (students, faculty, administrators, graduates etc.).
Disciplining students for a variety of activities, such as downloading papers from the internet, engaging in plagiarism or cheating on exams may not work when academic dishonesty is so commonplace at university that even top performers tend to follow the crowd in this. Indeed, academic misconduct can be self-perpetuating: if a student gets away with cheating once, they are more likely to cheat next time, according to Natalia Maloshonok.
On October 20-22, 2016, the Russian Association of Higher Education Researchers will hold its 7th International Conference in Moscow. This annual event brings together researchers and educators who are interested in higher education development in a forum to discuss challenges and goals facing universities and their stakeholders (students, faculty, administrators, graduates etc.).
On September 16, the Centre for Cultural Sociology and Anthropology of Education (HSE Institute of Education) held a seminar entitled ‘Trajectories and Educational Choice’ that brought together experts to discuss a number of topics related to educational expansion and the relationship between schooling and economic development.
Ivan Smirnov graduated from his master’s programme in Paris and hadn’t really considered coming back to Russia. But that was before he learned about the full-time advanced doctoral programme at HSE. The programme has some unique advantages among Russian programmes, which make it comparable to European PhDs.
For the first time ever, the leaders of education studies centres from some of the world’s leading research universities met at the HSE Academic Centre in Pushkin, Russia. At the meeting, the researchers, along with a representative from OECD, discussed how education studies departments should change to meet the global challenges that face the sphere of education.
The IV International Summer School on Higher Education Research, which was devoted to ‘Higher Education, Society and State’, was held June 4-10 in St. Petersburg. Organized jointly with the China Institute for Educational Finance Research at Peking University, the Summer School brings together senior and junior scholars in the field of higher education research; it aims to facilitate the exchange of ideas, enhance research quality, and foster the integration of early-career researchers into the international academic community.