Last registered on May 24, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Initial registration date
May 18, 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
May 24, 2023, 1:08 PM EDT

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



Primary Investigator

University of Zurich

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Birmigham
PI Affiliation
University of Campania
PI Affiliation
University of Bolzano
PI Affiliation
University of Bolzano
PI Affiliation
University of Bolzano

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
The STEM-UP intervention aims to train elementary school teachers across two domains: (1) visual-spatial cognitive skills; and (2) socio-emotional learning.

Registration Citation

Basso, Demis et al. 2023. "STEM-UP!." AEA RCT Registry. May 24.
Sponsors & Partners


Experimental Details


The intervention included two teacher training workshops: the SOLE and the VISPA laboratories.
The Socio-Emotional Learning Lab (SOLE Lab) promotes cooperation among children and the development of emotional, relational, and pro-social skills (soft skills). The aim of the SOLE lab is to counter aggressive attitudes and bullying and to build a strong and lasting social fabric among members of the class group, creating a community of children who identify with classroom practices and values. Based on the CASEL model for the support of socio-emotional skills development, the objectives of the SOLE workshop are: to acquire social and emotional skills to be configured as facilitators in relational contexts to foster positive peer relationships; to develop an awareness of self and others; to understand the relationships among emotions, cognition, and behaviors to support the meta-understanding of those mechanisms as well as self-regulatory skills; to develop autonomy, a sense of responsibility in choosing social response strategies, especially in cases of conflict with peers; to develop prosocial and empathic behaviors; and to activate supportive peer dynamics to prevent and counteract bullying and bullying of others.
The SOLE workshop is based on an interactive book with 10 thematic sessions containing 15 related activities. A specific graphic design and the narrative frame have been developed to engage children in the story progression and to let teachers enrich the narration with analogies and generalizations to those relational similarities between what occurs in the story and what happens in the classroom. Each chapter of the book is dedicated to one aspect of the core SEL competencies and provides activities and materials to help develop them in children. For instance, the chapter focused on resilience includes activities for identifying situated emotions, different points of view about the situation, and recognizing personal strengths and weaknesses. The goal of the book is to provide educators with a comprehensive tool for teaching socio-emotional learning in a fun and engaging way that will benefit their students both inside and outside the classroom.
The visuospatial skills laboratory (VISPA) is based on the use of a series of materials designed for play and teaching, namely educational robotics bricks based on products from Artec Japan Toys. These materials facilitate the day-to-day teaching of mathematical and geometric fundamentals as well as other subjects leveraging visual-spatial representations and motor skills. The VISPA lab aims to activate incremental learning processes through cooperative learning and a "learning-by-doing" paradigm and enable a progression that starts from the concept of composable units. It includes grade-specific classroom group activities consistent with existing educational programs. The VISPA Lab objectives are to enhance visual-spatial skills, acting on motor and mathematical-technical skills; increase logical and computational thinking skills; activate peer support dynamics for problem-solving; and develop motivation toward exploratory and collaborative behaviors.
The VISPA laboratory consists of a series of activities that are carried out over 9 weeks. During these activities, materials and their characteristics are introduced through games and problem-solving that are physical representations of numerical concepts, mathematical processes, geometry, mechanics, and physics. The lab techniques can also be useful in other subjects such as grammar, geography, and science.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Visuospatial abilities.
Prosocial skills.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Executive function.
Teaching methods and practices.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The intervention consists of three arms:
1. A control arm: Teachers and classes had no contact with the teacher trainers. They simply participated in baseline and end-line data collection, but no teacher intervention or change to the teaching curriculum was made (business as usual).
2. A VISPA arm: Teachers participated in the VISPA lab training.
3. A SOLE arm: Teachers participated in the SOLE lab training.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization was done in office by a computer, through a Stata do-file.
Randomization Unit
The randomization unit is a class-teacher group. Looking at the school-provided allocation of each teacher to the different classrooms and grades, we created groups of teachers and classes that were non-overlapping. For example, if two teachers were assigned to teach math and Italian respectively in both classes 3B and 4A, we would put those two teachers and the classes 3B and 4A in the same group. If a single teacher was assigned to teach everything in one single class, then that teacher and class were included in the same group. Each group was randomly allocated to either control, SOLE, or VISPA. There was no stratification at the school or geographic level.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
169 teacher-classes groups across 18 different schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
3700 pupils. 400 teachers.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
57 control groups
56 VISPA groups.
56 SOLE groups.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
We estimate a minimum detectable effect size of 27.63% of a standard deviation (s.d.) difference in outcomes between the treatment and the control group with 80% power at the 5% significance level.
Supporting Documents and Materials

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Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Human Subjects Committee of the Faculty of Economics, Business Administration, and Information Technology
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
OEC IRB # 2020-002