The impact of professional and volunteer mentoring on university access and retention

Last registered on February 15, 2024


Trial Information

General Information

The impact of professional and volunteer mentoring on university access and retention
Initial registration date
February 10, 2023

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
February 13, 2023, 10:42 AM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
February 15, 2024, 7:43 AM EST

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.


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Primary Investigator

Institute of Political Economy and Governance

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Univerisity of Bologna

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
The project aims to understand the impact of mentoring programs on high school students in Catalonia, Spain, with a focus on their performance and persistence in tertiary education. Additionally, it investigates the disparities in outcomes between being paired with a volunteer mentor versus an educational technician (ET). Employing randomized controlled trials at two levels – first at the school level and then within pairs of individuals – the project seeks to evaluate short and medium-term educational outcomes. These outcomes include persistence in tertiary education and career satisfaction. Volunteers, typically university students or graduates residing in Spain, offer firsthand experience, while ETs oversee pairs and provide mentorship. By assessing the effects of these interventions, the project aims to offer insights into effective strategies for improving educational equity and career outcomes. It considers varying approaches and resource allocations between volunteer and professional mentors.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Calsamiglia, Caterina and Annalisa Loviglio. 2024. "The impact of professional and volunteer mentoring on university access and retention." AEA RCT Registry. February 15.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


The study seeks to find the causal impact of a social mentoring program that offers advice and follow-up to young people at risk of social exclusion to access and remain in university. This is done through a cluster randomized trial at the school level.

The intervention consists of offering a mentoring program to students in their final year of high school and higher education from schools serving disadvantaged populations. The mentors, university students who will voluntarily participate in the project, will receive training to explain their specific functions, what is expected of them and the protocols to be followed. They will also be provided with information and support material to carry out the mentoring and to be able to accompany the young people properly.
Mentors will be matched to students at the en of April and will continue their mentoring activities at least until the end of the first trimester in college.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
GPA in high school, Availability of financia support, enrolment (captured either by admi records or by the fraction of students who pass the university entrance exam), engagement in the studies of choice and dropout (proxied by passing at least one subject in the first trimester).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
GPA in high school should be increase if student are more motivated to continue studying (both because of increased intrinsic and extrinsic motivation). Enrolment into university as captured either directly through administrative records obtained from the unversity or through passing the university entrance exam, which is information that shall be obtained from schools. We will capture engagement in the chosen studies by looking at attendance and having taken exams. Finally retention, or lack of dropout, will be proxied by having passed at least one subject in the first term.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Grades in university entrance exams, enrolment in vocational training, perfomance in college or vocational training, expectations about college and its challenges and returns.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
This study is a clustered randomized controlled trial at two levels. The first unit of randomization is the school (last year year of high school or vocational education previous to college) and the second in the students that applied to the mentoring program. The recruited sample is a set of voluntary schools. In total there are 130 schools in the Catalunya region recruited for the study. We shall randomly assign 65 schools to treatment and 65 to control. Individuals in the treated schools that have signed up for the program will be pari-wise randomised into getting a volunteer mentor or a professional one (educational technician).
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization shall be performed using a computer code.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
9300 potentially targeted. 4650 shall be offered the mentorship (treated).
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
63 treated and 63 control.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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