Does a Good Player Make a Good Coach?

Some new evidence on teacher test scores, this time from Sweden.

One Size Fits All? The Effects of Teacher Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Abilities on Student Achievement
Erik Grönqvist & Jonas Vlachos
Teachers are increasingly being drawn from the lower parts of the general ability distribution, but it is not clear how this affects student achievement. We track the position of entering teachers in population-wide cognitive and non-cognitive ability distributions using school grades and draft records from Swedish registers. The impact on student achievement caused by the position of teachers in these ability distributions is estimated using matched student-teacher data. On average, teachers’ cognitive and non-cognitive social interactive abilities do not have a positive effect on student performance. However, social interactive ability turns out to be important for low aptitude students, whilst the reverse holds for cognitive abilities. In fact, while high performing students benefit from high cognitive teachers, being matched to such a teacher can even be detrimental to their lower performing peers. Hence, the lower abilities among teachers may hurt some students, whereas others may even benefit. High cognitive and non-cognitive abilities thus need not necessarily translate into teacher quality. Instead, these heterogeneities highlight the importance of the student-teacher matching process.

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7 Responses to Does a Good Player Make a Good Coach?

  1. conrad says:

    Somehow or other, I don’t see deliberately putting dull teachers with dull kids as being acceptable to a fair chunk of the Australian public, no matter what the evidence. Alternatively, you might be able to sell the idea of putting high performing teachers with high performing kids, despite the current love for mediocrity that Australians seem to think is such a good idea.

  2. Patrick says:

    Conrad, just call it deliberately putting empathetic teachers with dull kids, no lefty will ever dare squeak ;)

  3. Don Arthur says:

    So the next time a socially inept economist starts dumping on the teaching profession, maybe the ‘stupid’ teachers should challenge them to contest. Can they do better?

    There are some people whose strengths are in maths and other cognitive tasks who mistakenly think they have a far more general set of aptitudes. “Of course I could do your job better than you, I’ve just got more important things to do!”

  4. conrad says:

    “So the next time a socially inept economist starts dumping on the teaching profession, maybe the ’stupid’ teachers should challenge them to contest. Can they do better?”
    A better challenge would be for economists to start trying to publish their educational, personality, and social psychology papers in educational, personality, and social psychology journals. That way people that already know a lot about education, personality, and social psychology might care about their findings a lot more.

  5. Martin says:

    Really, doesn’t this confirm a basic truth about teaching, that your students are not you and that you need to adapt your approach to the student and not expect the student to adapt to you.

  6. dj pheyseys says:

    Those who can’t, coach. Those who can’t coach, commentate.

  7. AndrewN says:

    Do you know if the finding holds across different subjects?

    It immediately made me think of Teach for America/Australia/Teach First. The Teach for America showed no difference in English, but small improvement in maths. I wonder if this contributes.

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