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The Effect of Digital Differentiation on Student Performance: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment

C. Haelermans, J. Ghysels, F. Prince

Abstract
This paper explores the effect of digital differentiation on student performance using a randomized experiment. The experiment is conducted in a second year Biology class among 115 prevocational students in the Netherlands. Differentiation allowed students in the experimental group to work at three different levels. The results show that there is a significant effect of digital differentiation on the posttest score, which corresponds to a small effect of 0.18 of a standard deviation. This effect is robust to adding covariates such as students’ ability, grade repetition, age, gender, class and average neighborhood income. There are no differential effects when dividing students in three groups, by ability. The results imply that differentiation in large classrooms is possible and beneficial for all students, once done digitally.
JEL-Classification – I20, I21, C93.
Key words – Randomized experiment; Digital Differentiation; Secondary Education.

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