Learning Job Skills from Colleagues at Work: Evidence from a Field Experiment Using Teacher Performance Data

49 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2016

See all articles by John P. Papay

John P. Papay

Brown University

Eric S. Taylor

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education

John H. Tyler

Brown University - Taubman Center for Public Policy; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Mary Laski

Brown University

Date Written: February 2016

Abstract

We study on-the-job learning among classroom teachers, especially learning skills from coworkers. Using data from a new field experiment, we document meaningful improvements in teacher job performance when high- and low-performing teachers working at the same school are paired and asked to work together on improving the low-performer’s skills. In particular, pairs are asked to focus on specific skills identified in the low-performer’s prior performance evaluations. In the classrooms of low-performing teachers treated by the intervention, students scored 0.12 standard deviations higher than students in control classrooms. These improvements in teacher performance persisted, and perhaps grew, in the year after treatment. Empirical tests suggest the improvements are likely the result of low-performing teachers learning skills from their partner.

Suggested Citation

Papay, John P. and Taylor, Eric S. and Tyler, John H. and Laski, Mary, Learning Job Skills from Colleagues at Work: Evidence from a Field Experiment Using Teacher Performance Data (February 2016). NBER Working Paper No. w21986. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2732463

John P. Papay (Contact Author)

Brown University ( email )

Box 1860
Providence, RI 02912
United States

Eric S. Taylor

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education ( email )

6 Appian Way
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

John H. Tyler

Brown University - Taubman Center for Public Policy ( email )

Providence, RI 02912
United States
401-863-1036 (Phone)
401-863-1276 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Mary Laski

Brown University

Box 1860
Providence, RI 02912
United States

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