Widening the horizons: information and role models to improve student’s outcomes.

Last registered on January 30, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Widening the horizons: information and role models to improve student’s outcomes.
Initial registration date
January 30, 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
January 30, 2023, 6:00 AM EST

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


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Primary Investigator

LEAP, Bocconi University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
CLEAN, Bocconi University

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial is based on or builds upon one or more prior RCTs.
We propose an intervention to tackle inequalities in the aspirations of children in eight grade in the city of Milan. Our goal is to affect children’s career prospects by making them more aware of the career paths they can pursue, how to pursue them, and of their probability of success, breaking the self-fulfilling low beliefs in aspirations that may cause aspiration traps (Ray, 2006). What is the most effective way to achieve this goal? Is it providing “examples of success” so that students can visualize themselves achieving success or simply providing (missing) information on the steps necessary to achieve a professional role? We tackle this question proposing two alternative treatments. In the first, children meet a panel of role models who share the same socio-economic background (they lived in the same neighbourhood or attended the same school), completed education successfully and gained a fulfilling job. We expect children to identify with the role model, understand the choices they have made and possibly consider this carrier for their future. To test if the “value added” of the role model is merely the delivery of new information we propose an alternative treatment, where classes meet a “career expert” providing students with information on the steps required to achieve a job. The information provided by the two treatments will be as similar as possible.
We will carry out the study in 60 schools in the province of Milan. 240 eight-grade classes will be assigned either to host a career-day (treatment) or to host an earth-day (control) or no event. Classes assigned to the career day may receive a panel of role model (identification treatment) or a career expert (information treatment). The control group will take part in a debate on the consequences of global warming led by an enumerator. All the students will have the chance to interact by asking questions. 10 schools will be assigned to host no event, to estimate potential spillovers between treated and control classes in treated schools. To assess the impact of the intervention we will merge insights from the economics and psychology of education literature. We will track the school grade, school choice and performance in standardized test scores of students in the treated and control groups and collect self-reported aspirations using surveys, open-ended interviews and essays created by the students and use regression analysis and content analysis.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Ghisolfi, Selene and Giovanna Marcolongo. 2023. "Widening the horizons: information and role models to improve student’s outcomes.." AEA RCT Registry. January 30. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.10886-1.0
Experimental Details


We designed a Clustered Randomized Control Trial to estimate the causal effect of the intervention on students’ aspirations and achievements. We test the differential effects of two treatments: I) a meeting with a career expert delivering information on the possible career paths and how to achieve them II) meetings with a panel of role models that could inspire students to follow their example. Both interventions will provide the same information, but role models will present themselves as the protagonist of the experience and will talk in the first person (to help identification and aspiration boosting). The treatment assignment will be at the class level, with schools having both treated and control classes. The effects of the two treatments will be estimated by comparing the ex-post outcomes of the treated children to the untreated (control) ones. To rule out (or estimate) the presence of spillovers, we will also recruit control-only schools where no students will receive any intervention and compare the outcomes of control students in control schools to outcomes of control students in schools where some of the classes are treated.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The project aims to estimate the effect of the Information and Identification interventions on the following outcomes:
“Hard” outcomes:
- Academic achievements: grades and Invalsi tests
- Academic effort: attendance and demerits
- Academic track chosen: high-school choices
“Soft” outcomes:
- Aspirations: essays answering to the question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and endline surveys.
- Self-reported beliefs on their probability of success in the future
- Interaction in the intervention and on the website
- Identification of the student with the role model/career expert: measured in the survey
- Information on careers: measured in the endline survey
- Self-esteem, self-efficacy, optimism: measured in the survey.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We randomize schools across: 10 Control Schools –no class will be treated and 50 Treatment schools – where at least one class is assigned to one of the two treatments. In each treatment school, we will randomly assign one class to the control group (i.e. meeting an environmental expert and watching a video on global warming and climate change) or to one of the treatment groups: the Information treatment (i.e. meeting the career expert) or the Identification treatment (i.e. meeting role models). We stratify the randomization of the two treatments by center/periphery schools.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization Unit
Classes within schools
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
60 schools, 180 to 240 classes (3-4 classes per school)
Sample size: planned number of observations
3600 to 4500 students (ca. 20 students per class)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
10 schools (30 classes) control, 50 schools (150-200 classes) treated where: 1 class per school receives the control condition, at least one class per school receives the "role model" condition, at least one class per school receives the "career expert" condition.
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