The effect of ability matching and differentiated instruction in financial literacy education. Evidence from two randomised control trials

K. Iterbeke*, K. De Witte*, K. Declercq*, W. Schelfhout*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The present paper examines the impact of ability matching and differentiated instruction on the learning outcomes of eighth and ninth grade students in a financial education programme. In particular, the effect of within-class ability matching is investigated by forming pairs of students either randomly or based on their abilities. In addition, the paper studies whether differentiated instruction, in the form of additional instructions for lower ability students, enhances the impact of the financial education programme. The paper provides evidence on the effects of both practices using two randomised control trials involving 65 schools and 2,407 students. Overall, the results suggest that the programme raises the financial proficiency of students by 0.18 standard deviations. Although the learning outcomes of the average student are not affected by the differentiation practices, non-native students significantly benefit from differentiated instruction.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101949
Number of pages25
JournalEconomics of Education Review
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020

JEL classifications

  • i21 - Analysis of Education


  • Ability matching
  • Differentiated instruction
  • Financial literacy
  • Randomised Control Trial

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