Working Paper Ircres-CNR 10/2018                            
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Evaluating social innovation: results and emerging issues from a random-trial evaluation of a program for the inclusion of migrant adolescents

Valentina Lamonica, Elena Ragazzi and Lisa Sella

CNR-IRCRES, National Research Council. Research Institute on Sustainable Economic Growth, Via Real Collegio 30, Moncalieri (TO) – Italy

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This paper presents the experimental evaluation of a pilot program for the educational inclusion of foreign adolescents with low language skills and high dropout risk in junior high school. The intervention aims at filling migrant students’ gaps in both general subject knowledge and character skills. The pilot is jointly developed by a private VET (Vocational Education and Training) center for adolescents in Turin, Italy, and some local junior high schools.

During the pilot, treated students attend 290-hour classes at the VET center. VET classes aim at restoring students’ interest in education by professionally-oriented teaching, inductive innovative pedagogical methods, and individual mentorship.

The pilot is evaluated through experimental counterfactual design. In the recent past, a similar preliminary project had positive results, but its evaluation was based on qualitative evidence and on teachers’ subjective assessment. Now, a grid of outcome variables is proposed to monitor students in the treated and control groups regarding their educational inclusion and scholastic achievement. The aim is to assess social and behavioral skills, alongside school performance.

Previous experimental evaluations of similar programs (see Kautz et al., 2014 for a survey) provide ambiguous results: depending on program features such as length of the treatment, role and pervasiveness of training, tutors, mentors, families’ and peers’ influence, long-term analyses showed either positive (Durlak et al., 2011; Tierney et al., 1995; Orr et al., 1994) or negative (Rodrigues-Planas, 2012) effects on some outcome variables such as behavioral attitudes, character skills, educational attainment, future wages and other labor market outcomes. For this reason, the project adopts a randomized experimental design, so as to get sound evidence on the effectiveness of the implemented activities.


Keywords: Evaluation; field experiment; social integration; migration; education.

JEL codes: H43, I24, J15

DOI: 10.23760/2421-7158.2018.010



How to Cite this Article

Lamonica, V., Ragazzi, E., & Sella, L. (2018). Evaluating social innovation: results and emerging issues from a random-trial evaluation of a program for the inclusion of migrant adolescents. Working Paper IRCrES, 4(10).

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