Amsterdam, Netherlands

Causal Evaluation Methods in Education Research

when 30 June 2018 - 14 July 2018
language English
duration 2 weeks
credits 3 EC
fee EUR 1000

How do education vouchers affect learning outcomes? What is the impact of financial aid upon higher education enrollments? Does reducing class sizes really improve student performance? Is there a relationship between educational attainment and civic participation? How effective are school-wide reading programmes?

Policymakers around the world are increasingly making evidence-based decisions about the use of scarce resources in such fields as education. Recent advances in research methodologies and data quality have vastly increased the potential for rigorous evaluation of the causal impact of interventions. Yet doing so often remains challenging methodologically, given issues of selection and attrition in social sciences research.

Several estimation methods have been developed in recent decades to help identify causal effects in the social sciences. Applying these techniques to educational settings, this course provides you with the knowledge and empirical skills you need to identify whether interventions are effective. You gain hands-on experience of evaluating randomized controlled trials, difference-in-differences settings, regression-discontinuity designs, instrumental variables approaches and panel-data studies.

As well as interactive introductory lectures, you take part in practical lab sessions using statistical software to replicate actual results from seminal papers. In structured group discussions, you critically evaluate these results and reflect on lessons learned. Assessment is by a homework assignment testing your competence, both conceptual and analytical, with each of the research designs covered.
The course is offered by VU-ACLA, a team of researchers specializing in causal evaluations of educational interventions.

Course leader

Ilja Cornelisz, Chris van Klaveren

Target group

Students and professionals with an interest in and aptitude for empirical research in the social sciences, in particular education policy. Our courses are multi-disciplinary and therefore are open to students and professionals with a wide variety of backgrounds.

Course aim

At the end if this course, you:
•Can distinguish between the various experimental and quasi-experimental methods in causal evaluation.
•Understand the strengths and weaknesses of these methods.
•Can empirically estimate and interpret experimental and quasi-experimental regression models using statistical software.
•Can determine whether empirical studies provide valid evidence and so should be included in systematic literature reviews.

Credits info

3 EC
Contact Hours: 45
If you want to earn more credits you can take courses in our other sessions to create a 4 or 6 week programme.

Fee info

EUR 1000: The tuition fee includes:
• Airport pick-up service
• Welcome goodie bag
• Orientation programme
• Course excursions
• On-site support
• Emergency assistance
• Transcript of records after completion of the course

An early bird discount of €150 is available for students who apply and pay before 15 March, and students from VU Amsterdam as well as from exchange partner universities will receive a €250 discount. You apply for the discount simply by indicating that you are currently a student at VU Amsterdam or at a partner university in the online application.

There are also discounts for students who attend multiple sessions, combine 2 courses and receive a €200 discount and combine 3 to receive a €300 discount. All courses include excursions. We will also organize trips and excursions as part of our social programme, which is a great way to get to know your fellow students and learn more about Amsterdam and the Netherlands. The social programme is not included in the tuition fee.

Furnished accommodation is available. Various housing options will be offered.


The VU Amsterdam Summer School offers ten scholarships that cover the full tuition and housing fees of one course. Information about how to apply for the scholarship will be posted on the VU Amsterdam Summer School website.

Register for this course
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