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Study Overview

Game changer: The Impact of a Dyslexia-related Intervention on Cognitive and Non-cognitive Skills
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Dyslexia is a widespread learning difficulty that is positively correlated with measures of low academic performance and with the likelihood of dropping out of compulsory education. These dimensions are, in turn, predictive of worse mid- and late-life outcomes, such as lower income and less healthy behaviours. Designing cost-effective tools that improve the reading and writing skills of dyslexic (and non-dyslexic) individuals is therefore oftentimes a priority for policy makers. In this project, we study the impact of a linguistic web-based game originally designed to improve the reading skills of dyslexic children on cognitive and non-cognitive outcomes of both dyslexic and non-dyslexic children. 

Registration Citation:
Additional Keywords:
Dyslexia, Gamified educational app
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Principal Investigator(s)

Name of First PI:
Javier Garcia-Brazales
University of Exeter
Name of Second PI:
Micole De Vera
University College London

Study Sponsor

Fundación Piñera Morel
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Research Partner

Name of Partner Institution:
Fundación Piñera Morel

Intervention Overview


The intervention that we evaluate aims at improving the reading and writing skills of third-graders enrolled in "high vulnerability" schools in Chile's Metropolitan Region. The main element of the intervention is the in-class completion of linguistically-motivated activities within a gamified app three times per week (three hours in total) over a period of three months. The app is specially designed to improve reading in Spanish. These sessions are led by a qualified psychopedagogue from our implementation partner. This component of the intervention is complemented by the presence of a mobile library allowing the children to borrow books to take home and a text message-based parental support program through which our implementation partner offered advice on how to take advantage of daily life situations to help and motivate their children with their reading and writing.

Theory of Change:

We expect our intervention to have an impact on the academic performance of the participants, as measured by Government-provided standardized tests. Given the linguistically-motivated nature of our intervention, our focus will be on Spanish language, but spillovers to other subjects (e.g., Mathematics) will also be explored. The potential improvement in academic performance may arise through two channels: (i) improvement in skills per se, and (2) improvements in non-cognitive skills that are conducive to better academic performance. We will use measures of in-game performance to provide suggestive evidence on the improvement of reading skills. We will quantify changes in non-cognitive skills (e.g., self-confidence, aspirations) through a tailored questionnaire distributed by our implementation partner at the beginning and at the end of the intervention.

Multiple Treatment Arms Evaluated?

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Evaluation Method

Evaluation Method Overview

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Method Details

Details of Evaluation Approach:

Please refer to attached "Chile 3ie Pre-Analysis Plan" for details.

Outcomes (Endpoints):

Please refer to attached "Chile 3ie Pre-Analysis Plan" for details.

Unit of Analysis:
The main unit of analysis is the student (i.e., individual-level analysis).

The intervention that we evaluate aims at improving the reading and writing skills of the students. The most natural outcome where we expect an impact is therefore school performance in Spanish language. We expect such enhanced performance to be predated by improved in-game performance within the app.

Since good performance in one subject is generally correlated with good performance in others, we will also explore if the program has an impact on the students' Mathematics score. One would expect that if our program has had a positive impact on non-cognitive skills whose positive effects expand across a variety of subjects (e.g., increased self-confidence or grit), Mathematics performance could also increase for the participants of our program.

Turning to potential non-cognitive impacts of our program, and given the salient role of reading and writing in someone's life, we expect that students who are able to improve their reading and writing skills thanks to the intervention will also strengthen their self-confidence and taste for school. This may help them in building better relationships with classmates, lead them to increase their academic aspirations and to actually change their behavior to be better placed to achieve those goals (e.g., by starting putting more effort in their studies).

Unit of Intervention or Assignment:
Number of Clusters in Sample:
10 schools.
Number of Individuals in Sample:
Based on the number of students officially enrolled in the participating schools, and taking into account that student absences will inevitably take place, we expect to have around 800 students.
Size of Treatment, Control, or Comparison Subsamples:
5 schools are assigned to treatment and 5 to control.

Supplementary Files

Analysis Plan:
Chile 3ie Pre-Analysis Plan.pdf
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Outcomes Data

We employ both primary and secondary data. Our main primary data consists of a baseline and an endline questionnaire for students eliciting, among others, grit, self-confidence, aspirations, taste for school, and effort. We complement this with a teacher questionnaire aiming at providing further contextual information. Moreover, for the treated students we have access to data on their in-game performance. We use secondary data (Prueba DIA) to measure the evolution of academic performance.
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Treatment Assignment Data

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Data Analysis

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Study Materials

Upload Study Materials:
Questionnaires: baseline_student_questionnaire.pdf

Registration Category

Registration Category:
Prospective, Category 1: Data for measuring impacts have not been collected

Completion Overview

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Preliminary Report:
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Other Materials

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Study Stopped