What have we been up to?

Our Projects

We have projects that cover a great variety of topics on economics of education concerning several educational stages.

Ongoing Projects

This project aims to understand how the activation of leadership skills, community spirit and participation in the educational community can impact the development of self-esteem, autonomy, interpersonal relationships, and critical thinking. The intention of this project is also to assess if there is a causal connection between gains in this set of soft-skills and their academic performance.

Coordinator: Ana Balcão Reis

Duration: 2020 - 2023

Sponsor: Associação Mentes Empreendedoras https://www.mentesempreendedoras.com/

This project aims to monitor and measure the results from the implementation of the ISA FJN, a conditional loan program which finances long and short term academic degrees. This assessment is made through surveys to candidate beneficiaries of this support. It will also involve a benchmark exercise against similar international programmes.

Coordinator: Ana Balcão Reis

Team: Ana Balcão Reis, Pedro Freitas, Francisco Vale

Duration: 2020-2022

Sponsor: Fundação José Neves https://joseneves.org/pt/

This project aims to implement a randomized impact evaluation of the mentoring intervention that promotes a better adaptation and success of students from the Países Africanos de Língua Oficial Portuguesa (PALOP) into Portuguese higher education institutions. The project will inform public policies promoting investment in human capital and the productive integration of immigrants – issues that are becoming more and more relevant, particularly in contexts of ageing population.

Coordinators: Ana Balcão Reis, Cátia Batista

Team: Ana Balcão Reis, Cátia Batista, Gonçalo Lima, João Firmino, Márcia Serra, Pedro Freitas

Partners: NOVAFRICA Knowledge Center https://novafrica.org/?lang=eng

Sponsor:  Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), Ministry of Internal Administration https://www.sg.mai.gov.pt/fundoscomunitarios/qfp20142020/fami/Paginas/default.aspx

In Portugal, the COVID-19 pandemic led to temporary school lockdowns and a generalised move to online teaching. This article uses data from a survey administered to teachers between March 2020 and January 2021 in three rounds of questionnaires. It shows that the pandemic affected public and private schools differently and led to increased inequalities in education, as many students did not have access to computers and the Internet. The situation improved over time, especially in private schools, where students are mostly from higher-income families. Overall, teachers were able to diversify their teaching and assessment methods. However, they believed that it would take a long time for students to recover the learning losses, with public school teachers being more pessimistic. Nearly half of public-school teachers surveyed believed that this recovery would take two terms or more, whereas over a third of private school teachers made this prediction. This data was collected before the second lockdown, which started in January 2021. Teachers’ estimates for recovery time have likely increased since then.

Published Article: https://oobservatoriosocial.fundacaolacaixa.pt/en/-/online-teaching-and-learning-in-portugal-during-the-covid-19-pandemic-differences-between-public-and-private-schools-1

Coordinator: Luís Catela Nunes

Team: Luís Catela Nunes, Ana Balcão Reis, Pedro Freitas, Gonçalo Lima, Diogo Conceição

Duration: 2020 – 2021

Sponsor: “la Caixa” Foundation  https://oobservatoriosocial.fundacaolacaixa.pt/en/inicio

The educational institutions aim to define specific strategic plans and interventions that intend to promote success and prevent failure, which requires the necessary information to identify the students that are in need of these types of interventions. Unfortunately, throughout the years, the educational system has been resorting exclusively to the feedback that is given by the teachers, which has been proven to be inefficient since the identification of these students has been performed in a late stage of the learning process. Taking this into account, this research aims to contribute a better comprehension of the success and failure phenomena in primary schooling from a longitudinal perspective. In this project, it is intended to identify the factors that better explain school failure. Moreover, it will also be proposed an approach based on Data Mining techniques that aim to facilitate the identification and prioritization of the students that are more prone to fail. This identification is, thereafter, followed by the promotion of opportunities to intentionally and prematurely act on these cases, which will promote success and prevent school failure. The final results aim to clearly identify the success and failure profiles, not only validated at an empirical level, but also at a conceptual level, and create a support system to the teachers’ and school managers’ decisions.

Coordinator: Ana Balcão Reis

Duration: 2018-2023

Partner: Centre for Research in Higher Education Policies https://www.cipes.pt/?language=en

Sponsor: EDULOG https://www.edulog.pt/

Past Projects

The current challenges that education faces, particularly in the follow-up of multiple Covid-19 lockdowns motivates a deeper understanding on the differences of public vs private teachers. Such understanding is for sure crucial in developing policies that can target the identified issues and improve the Portuguese educational system, based on our findings. Thus, in this study we have compare multiple variables in order to analyse the differences between the public and private sector teachers from 2006 to 2016, in Portugal. Overall, our results have always been according to the literature, something relevant since it adds strength to the data. We compare private and public school teachers regarding gender, age, qualifications, turnover, tenure, type of contract, working hours and wages. It is of most importance to be aware of these statistics, in order to implement well thought and efficient policies.

Coordinator: Pedro Freitas

Team (Nova Economics Club): Ana Marques, Daniel Silva, Henrique Santos, João Carvalho

Duration: 2020-2021

Partner: Nova Economics Club http://novaeconomicsclub.pt/

This project aims to determine the impact that a teacher can have on the students’ learning process, depending on his/her quality of teaching. In order to quantify the quality of the teacher, this research will resort to the Value Added of each one, more precisely, the average learning of his/her students which is normally computed through the evolution of the students’ grades in two adjacent periods, before and after the student is exposed to this teacher’s way of teaching. In order to do this, the research requires access to administrative microdata from students and teachers, which was only available in the USA and some developing countries. Nevertheless, there were created new databases for data in Portugal that link the teachers to each student in each school year, along with the results from the 4th, 6th, 9th, and 12th grade, allowing for these types of studies to be performed in Portugal.

Coordinator: Luís Catela Nunes

Team: Luís Catela Nunes, Ana Balcão Reis, Carmo Seabra, Pedro Freitas, Rodrigo Ferreira, Pedro Carneiro (University College London)

Duration: 2017-2019

Partner: University College London https://www.ucl.ac.uk/

Sponsor: EDULOG https://www.edulog.pt/

This project studies the determinants of school’s effectiveness. In order to do that, it will use a dataset that was a product of a previous project funded by FCT. It merges information on students' characteristics with results on national exams at students’ individual level for the whole Portuguese student population in basic and secondary education for the school years of 2006-2007 to 2011-2012. Through micro-econometric methods, it is intended to determine the factors that affect school achievement so that it can improve the Portuguese educational system. Some of the determinants that will be analysed are retentions and evaluation methods, school organization, class composition, and peers’ characteristics. Finally, since one of the most important outcomes of basic and secondary education is the access to higher education and the success therein, it will also be analysed the determinants of academic achievement of Bachelor and Integrated Masters students in Portugal. Taking this into account, it was used datasets that merge information at the individual student level on students’ characteristics and educational outcomes, both at the end of secondary education and at higher education. This will allow to identify the relationships and specific roles played by internal scores and scores on national exams.

Coordinator: Ana Balcão Reis

Duration: 2016-2019

Sponsor: Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia https://www.fct.pt/index.phtml.en

The role of retention as an educational tool to overcome under-achievement is a hotly debated issue, especially given that the results in the literature are not consensual. The Portuguese case is particularly well suited to study this issue: all students must take standardized national exams at specific grades. Moreover, the available dataset tracks the performance of students over time. Therefore, it was possible to measure the impact of students’ retention on their subsequent academic performance since it was viable to control for each student’s initial level of ability at the moment of retention. A propensity score matching approach was used, in which retained and promoted 4th-grade students are matched according to their socioeconomic characteristics and the scores obtained in national exams. The results suggested that in some situations, retentions may have, on average, a positive impact on future achievement. However, in cases where statistically significant impacts are found, the estimated magnitudes are relatively small.

Coordinators: Ana Balcão Reis, Carmo Seabra, Luís Catela Nunes

Team: Ana Balcão Reis, Carmo Seabra, Luís Catela Nunes

Duration: 2015-2016

Published Paper: Nunes, L. C., Balcão Reis, A., and Seabra, C. 2018. “Is retention beneficial to low-achieving students? Evidence from Portugal”. Applied Economics, 1-12. (https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00036846.2018.1444261)

Paper Presented in: Third Lisbon Research Workshop on Economics, Statistics and Econometrics of Education, ISEG, Lisbon, Portugal, 23-24 January 2015; 22nd Congress of Portuguese Statistical Society, 7-10 October, 2015, Olhão, Portugal; 10th Annual Meeting of the Portuguese Economic Journal, Coimbra, Portugal, 1-3 July, 2016; 36th International Symposium on Forecasting, ISF2016, Santander, Spain, 19-22 June 2016; Conference “Mês da Educação 2016”, Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos, Lisbon, Portugal, 26 October 2016; and Fórum Estatístico, DGEEC, 8 March 2017.

Sponsor: Fundação Francisco Manuel dos Santos https://www.ffms.pt/en

Coordinator: Ana Balcão Reis

Duration: 2012 - 2015

Sponsor: FCT-Ministry of Science of Portugal under grant Project PTDC/EGE-ECO/122754/2010

Coordinator: Tiago Neves Sequeira

Sponsor: FCT-Ministry of Science of Portugal under grant PTDC/EGE-ECO/112499/2009

Coordinator: Ana Balcão Reis

Duration: 2005 - 2009

Sponsor: FCT-Ministry of Science of Portugal under grant Project POCTI/EGE/60485/2004