The motivational effect of job references for voluntary participation in e-learning– Evidence from a field experiment on cooperation.

Last registered on March 13, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

The motivational effect of job references for voluntary participation in e-learning– Evidence from a field experiment on cooperation.
Initial registration date
March 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
March 13, 2023, 3:25 PM EDT

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


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Primary Investigator


Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Vechta
PI Affiliation
University of Vechta

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 high importance of career-oriented motivation within the group of young volunteers and the recent evidence that job references for volunteers can improve employment opportunities suggest that job references for volunteers can motivate young adults to participate in volunteer programs. We demonstrated this in our study, "The motivational effect of detailed job references for volunteers - Evidence from a field experiment on intergenerational cooperation" ( We successfully tested a mechanism for detailed job references with performance information that outperformed a control group that received a simple job reference without performance information. As a next step, we aim to increase the quality of volunteer support by integrating online training with 5 modules before participants offer support to their mentees. With this approach, we are testing how to motivate younger citizens to participate in an online e-Learning program (e.g., through monetary incentives or volunteer job references) and how participation affects performance in an ongoing hands-on engagement.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Kwasniok, Devin, Bernd Josef Leisen and Vanessa Mertins. 2023. "The motivational effect of job references for voluntary participation in e-learning– Evidence from a field experiment on cooperation.." AEA RCT Registry. March 13.
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Based on the literature on youth volunteer career motivation, positive labor market outcomes for volunteers, and non-financial incentives, we expect positive motivational effects of job references that provide additional information about enrollment and completion of the e-learning program and the additional module compared to the payment system. In addition, we expect participants who participated in the program to provide a higher number of phone calls/video chats and messages and more caregiver minutes than volunteers who did not participate. We measure these interaction parameters for both the incentive period and the post-incentive period to capture continuation of volunteering after the project ends. We also assume that the quality of support is strengthened by the program. We measure the quality of support by changes in mentees' skills and mentees' perceived quality of mentorship and learning.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
As a result of the higher regularity and intensity of support provided by youth volunteers who participated in the program, we expect several positive effects on their mentees compared to mentees with control group volunteers:

- Higher decreases in self-reported loneliness
- Higher increase in smartphone, tablet, or computer use (average minutes per day)
- Higher increase in self-rated social integration
- Higher self-reported decreases in smartphone anxiety and self-efficacy
- A higher increase in life satisfaction

All of these measures are obtained through a pre-post comparison.

In addition, we measure time spent using the e-learning tool and an internal test score.

We also want to use the open text that mentees can write about their experience with their younger mentor as a dependent variable. Here, we can see how much time the mentees need for their text and we want to analyze if the treatments have an impact on the length and tone of the references.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Our participants come from an ongoing volunteer project ( that aims to facilitate collaboration between younger digital natives and primarily older citizens, reducing loneliness and feelings of isolation among older citizens while increasing digital literacy among older citizens. Mentees receive self-learning materials and are supported by younger mentors over a 9-week period.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization into the three treatment groups is done by a computerized random draw.
Randomization Unit
Individual (volunteers)
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Control: 66
Payment: 66
Reference: 66
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
German Association for Experimental Economic Research e.V
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number