Open Access

Pedagogy and Student Learning Outcomes in Elementary Schools in Rural India: A Quasi-Experimental Approach


The purpose of this paper is to explore the impact of effective teaching methods on learning outcomes in elementary schools in rural India. Particularly, this paper studies an innovative learning enhancement program called “Parrho Punjab” launched in 2007 in the Indian state of Punjab. Using cross-sectional data, the effect of the “Parrho Punjab” program on third to fifth grade children’s learning levels in basic mathematics is evaluated. This study develops combined research designs of propensity score matching technique and the difference-in-differences (DID) method. In a first step, propensity score matching technique is applied to create a synthetic control group that is as similar as possible to the treatment group in terms of pre- “Parrho Punjab” characteristics. The difference-in-differences approach is then used to estimate the effect of the program on third to fifth grade children’s learning outcomes in basic mathematics. The results indicate a positive and significant effect of the program on children’s learning outcomes in basic mathematics, underscoring the importance of effective pedagogy in enhancing learning outcomes. Combining propensity score matching with the difference-in-differences approach, this study addresses the problem of unmeasured confounding. The DID approach will produce misleading conclusions in the presence of bias due to unmeasured confounders. To the best of my knowledge, previous studies using a DID method for examining the impact of effective teaching strategies on student learning outcomes in India have not made such attempts to address the problem of confounding bias.