Jacobs Foundation Research Fellow

Noam Angrist

University of Oxford

Research Focus

Noam Angrist’s research focuses on the scale-up of effective educational interventions, including effective implementation with governments. This includes conducting randomized trials with governments across contexts. A recent focus area is advancing rapid, iterative testing techniques, such as A/B testing in the social sector, an approach Angrist and his colleagues at Youth Impact – an NGO he co-founded to scale-up evidence-based approaches – have been refining over the past few years. This approach is common in the technology sector, but rare in social science, and can enable scalability and responsiveness to practitioner needs. In addition, he aims to produce public goods, such as global databases of human capital measures. A recent interest also includes meta-analysis to evaluate generalizability across contexts. 

My plans for the Fellowship

During my fellowship, I aim to, first, build the evidence base around scaling and implementation science in education, a focus of our new center: the What Works Hub for Global Education. Second, I am to expand on a recent five-country randomized controlled trial of a mobile phone tutorial intervention in post-COVID-19 settings which experience frequent disruption, due to weather shocks in the Philippines, or due to conflict in Afghanistan and Ethiopia. Prior evidence generated on this topic during COVID-19 provided some of the largest scale experimental evidence across countries in school disruption settings; this resulted in multiple scale-up efforts, demonstrating the value of multi-context, real-time evidence. Third, I will accelerate work conducting A/B tests to optimize mobile phone education approaches. Already to date we have conducted multiple A/B tests in Botswana in partnership with the government and the largest NGO in the country, Youth Impact. We will conduct half a dozen more A/B tests and publish scientific contributions on the A/B testing methodology in the social sector. 

How will my work change children’s and youth’s lives? 

The research conducted during the fellowship is expected to directly improve learning for over 5,000 children. In addition, it has the potential to influence over 1 million children across 9 countries in the next few years. Channels for influence include scale-up opportunities for the specific programs being studied as well as related efforts which the research team is actively engaged in across Afghanistan, Botswana, Ethiopia, India, Namibia, the Philippines, Somalia, South Africa, and Uganda.