Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy

No 2015:23: Inquiry-based learning put to test: long-term effects of the Swedish science and technology for Children program

Erik Mellander () and Joakim Svärdh ()
Additional contact information
Erik Mellander: IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy, Postal: Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy, P O Box 513, SE-751 20 Uppsala, Sweden
Joakim Svärdh: KTH, Education and Communication in Engineering Science, ECE, Postal: Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: We quantitatively evaluate the effects in grade 9 on content and process skills in sciences, from participation in the Swedish science and technology for children program, the NTA program. Students predominantly participate in this program during grades 1-6. Our outcome measures are scores and grades on nationwide tests, and course grades, in biology, chemistry and physics, 2009-2010. A nationally representa¬tive random sample of almost 16 000 test-taking students is coupled with multi-level information about the NTA, and background factors. Non-random selection into the program is addressed by propensity score analysis. The matched sample of pairs of NTA participants and non-participants, determined by the propensity scores, is quite well behaved, although there are significant, but small, differences for some of the matching covariates. We find significantly positive effects on test scores (average increase 16.4%) and test grades in physics, but not in biology and chemistry. No significant effects are found for course grades.

Keywords: quantitative evaluation; national standardized tests; representative sample; non-random selection; propensity score analysis; multi-level modeling; post-matching multivariate regression

JEL-codes: I21

57 pages, October 14, 2015

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