Published: 18 August, 2023

The 5D model: towards a more comprehensive approach for improving education

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Human capital theory, the dominant paradigm in the economics of education, suggests that education and training are investments that improve individual and societal outcomes. Yet, this is largely a black-box demand-side approach, providing little guidance for educators and policy makers on how to organize educational offerings. For this purpose, empirical production function studies estimate the
marginal contributions of educational inputs in promoting cognitive and non-cognitive skills. This endeavor has given impetus to randomized trials in education and the rise of evidence-based education. This focus on experiments has met with criticism, in part due to relatively disappointing results and a lack of sustainable improvements in education policy and practice.

This paper introduces an iterative 5D model as a more comprehensive approach for improving education. This model acknowledges the importance of causal evaluations in determining the intervention effectiveness. Yet, causal evaluations are placed in a broader framework and are scaled equally in terms of importance with other important stages. Proper diagnosis, for example, ensures that interventions can be effectively targeted, such that conventional scattergun approaches are avoided. The practical intuition of the 5D model is outlined by linkage to a stylized teacher shortage example.