The effect of receiving free educational support on the propensity to volunteer among secondary school students: An RCT in rural Bangladesh.

Last registered on September 01, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

The effect of receiving free educational support on the propensity to volunteer among secondary school students: An RCT in rural Bangladesh.
Initial registration date
August 04, 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
August 10, 2023, 1:28 PM EDT

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

Last updated
September 01, 2023, 4:15 AM EDT

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


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Primary Investigator

Monash University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Monash University
PI Affiliation
Monash University

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
This study aims to examine if recipients of free educational support become more inclined to engage in volunteer activities. Focusing on secondary school students in rural Bangladesh who have received free educational audio lessons through Interactive Voice Response (IVR) in a Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT), we will measure their propensity to volunteer through survey questionnaires and elicit their preferences for actual volunteer activities. We also introduce a new RCT among the subset of students who sign up for volunteer activities to disentangle the effect of receiving IVR on volunteering motivation from the additional effect of participation in volunteer activities on volunteering motivation.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Zaman, Anika, Asad Islam and Liang Choon Wang. 2023. "The effect of receiving free educational support on the propensity to volunteer among secondary school students: An RCT in rural Bangladesh.." AEA RCT Registry. September 01.
Experimental Details


The ongoing RCT (AEARCTR - 0010647) primarily evaluates the effects of a free Interactive Voice Response (IVR) educational intervention on students' educational achievements and aspirations. This IVR education experiment was implemented between January 2023 and June 2023. In contrast, our study intends to examine whether the IVR educational intervention affects children’s inclination to volunteer. We do so by conducting an additional post-intervention survey in September 2023. In this follow-up survey, we: (1) measure students' propensity to volunteer using the “Bales Volunteerism-Activism Scale” questionnaire (Bales, 1996); and (2) elicit students’ preferences for volunteering through a “sign-up sheet” for actual volunteer activities. In October 2023, we will assign volunteering activities to students who have signed up and request them to participate in an actual volunteer activity. Finally, a post-volunteering survey will be conducted in November 2023.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Primary outcomes
1. Propensity to volunteer
Propensity to volunteer will be assessed using two instruments: “Bales Volunteerism-Activism Scale” and a “sign-up sheet”.
2. Preference in volunteer activities
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
1.1 Propensity to volunteer
Propensity to volunteer will be assessed using two instruments: “Bales Volunteerism-Activism Scale” and a “sign-up sheet”.
1.1.1 Bales Volunteerism-Activism Scale
We will use “Bales Volunteerism-Activism Scale” (Table A1.1) to measure propensity to volunteer. Research has demonstrated that the likelihood of engaging in voluntary work is positively correlated with a higher score on the Activism scale (Bales,1996). There are 20 statements in the scale. Students will indicate to what extent they agree to each statement using the 5-point scale provided. The scale ranges from 1 ‘Strongly disagree’ to 5 ‘Strongly agree’. We will average them to obtain the score for each respondent.
1.1.2 Sign-up for volunteer activities
We will provide two options of volunteer activities in a “sign-up sheet” (Table A1.3) to measure their preference for volunteer activity. The two options are: (1) engaging in cleaning activities; and (2) assisting primary school students with their homework. A binary variable “volunteer” will be assigned a value of 1 if the student signs up for either activity, or 0 otherwise.
1.2 Preference in volunteer activities
To elicit the students’ volunteering preferences upon their agreement to sign-up, we will request them to rank the two options from the most preferred to the least preferred. Two dummy variables will be created separately for whether cleaning is more preferred and whether homework assisting is more preferred. These variables will take the value 1 if the respective activity is ranked as their first preference, and 0 otherwise.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
1. Helping with household chores.
2. Dimensions of volunteer attitude
3. Motivation to volunteer
4. Attendance in actual volunteer activities
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
1. Helping with household chores
We will also use data from the existing RCT endline survey regarding time spent doing household chores to see whether students in treatment groups are more helpful to their families. Student’s own assessment of minutes spent helping parents with household chores or outside work per day (average over last week).
The sum of minutes will be reported by the participant for the following household activities: cooking, cleaning up the house, bringing clean water to your house, bringing groceries from a hut or Bazar, helping siblings to study, farming or gardening, parent’s income-generating activities (e.g., fishing, tailoring, etc.), other income-generating activities to support their family.
The specific survey question asks: “Do you help with [activity]? If yes, how much time in a day (average over last week)? [Answer: in minutes]”
2. Dimensions of volunteer attitude
We will use the four dimensions from “Bales Volunteerism Activism scale” to analyze the underlying features that create active volunteer attitude and see whether treatment group students score higher in any of the dimensions. According to the scale there are four clear dimensions which make up the active volunteer attitude. We will average scores on the five items of each dimension to obtain the score for each respondent. The scale has the following dimensions:
2.1. A sense of effectiveness
The perception of personal efficacy, control, and significance in tackling social issues is reflected in specific questions (b, c, f, m, p). Example: Potential volunteers will have very strong negative reaction to the statement, “Anything I do can’t really change the world’s problems.” This suggests that these respondents place great importance on their ability to make a profound impact in addressing societal challenges.
2.2. Sociability and generability
The perception that volunteer priorities global issues alongside their personal commitments. This is reflected in specific questions (d, h, j, o, r, t). For instance, potential volunteers will strongly disagree with the statement, “People with ordinary lives don’t feel the need to get heavily involved in social causes.”
2.3. Idealism or philosophical commitment
This demonstrates the inclination to make sacrifices for the betterment of society and their perception that addressing significant challenges involves incurring real costs. It is evident in the responses to specific questions (e, g, I, k, n). For instance, potential volunteers will strongly agree with statements such as “There will be peace only when there is justice”.
2.4 The ‘feel good’ factor
This dimension suggests that the potential volunteers believe that their actions not only benefit others but also contribute to their own personal growth and fulfillment. It is reflected in the responses to specific questions (a, 1, q, s). Potential volunteers will show a highly positive reaction to statements such as “The more you put into life, the more you will get out of it” and “I know that when I’m working to help others, I’m also helping myself.”
3. Motivation to volunteer
Motivation to volunteer will be measured using the ‘Volunteer Functions Inventory’ (VFI) (Clary et al., 1998) (Table A2 ), which has been applied widely in the volunteering literature. There are 30 questions in the scale which consists of a set of six motivational functions served by volunteerism. Students will indicate to what extent each motive influences their decision to volunteer using the 7-point scale provided. The scale ranges from 1 ‘not at all important/accurate’ to 7 ‘extremely important/accurate’. Scale scores result from averaging scores on the five items of each motivational function, so that individuals’ scores on each scale can range from 1 to 7; higher score will reflect greater importance of the motivation.
Engaging in volunteer service can serve the purpose of providing individuals with opportunities to express their values associated with altruism and humanitarian concerns for others. The factor ’Value’ is reflected in question no. 3, 8, 16, 19 and 22.
3.2 Understanding
Volunteering can fulfill is providing individuals with opportunities for new learning experiences and the chance to apply and develop their knowledge, skills, and abilities that might otherwise remain untrained. The factor ‘Understanding’ is reflected in question no 12, 14, 18, 25 and 30.
3.3 Social
Another significant function served by volunteering revolves around motivations related to relationships with others. By engaging in volunteer work, individuals can strengthen social connections, seek approval from significant others, and derive satisfaction from contributing to the well-being of others within their social networks. The factor ’Social’ is reflected in question no. 2, 4, 6, 17 and 23.
3.4 Career
Volunteering is related to career-related benefits that individuals can obtain through their participation in volunteer work. By engaging in volunteer activities, individuals can gain valuable experience, develop transferable skills, and enhance their professional networks, all of which can contribute to their career advancement and growth. The factor ‘Career’ is reflected in question no. 1, 10, 15, 21, 28.
3.5 Protective
This function revolves around safeguarding the ego from negative aspects of the self. In the context of volunteerism, these motivations may serve to remove guilt over being more fortunate than others and to address one’s personal issues. By volunteering, individuals can find peace, alleviate guilt, and address personal challenges, thus providing themselves with a sense of ego protection and well-being. The factor ’Protective’ is reflected in question no. 7, 9, 11, 20 and 24.
3.6 Enhancement
Lastly, a sixth function proposed for volunteering roots from the recognition that the ego, particularly its relationship to affect, extends beyond protective processes. Specifically, in the case of positive mood, people engage in helping activities to maintain or enhance their positive effect. The factor ’Enhancement’ is reflected in question no. 5, 13, 26, 27 and 29.
4. Attendance in actual volunteer activities
We will record the attendance of the randomly selected registered students who were assigned volunteer work to participate in volunteer activities. We will create two participation variables. The first is a binary outcome (1 for participation, 0 for non-participation) and the second is a continuous variable on a scale of 1 to 4, reflecting the number of days of participation.

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We use the experimental design of an existing RCT. The existing IVR education experiment (AEARCTR - 0010647) used a two-stage cluster randomized controlled trial with three experimental arms (two treatment arms and one control arm). In this RCT, 208 secondary schools were selected from a list of schools in the sub districts where the implementing organization, Global Development Research Institute (GDRI), operates.
In the first stage, these 208 schools were randomly allocated to one of three experimental arms (without stratification): T1 (self-help group), T2 (assisted group), and the control group. Each of the treatment arms (T1 and T2) comprises 69 schools, while the control group includes 70 schools. In the second stage, within-school randomization was conducted to select a subgroup of 9th grade students within T1 and T2 schools to receive the treatment. 15 students were selected on average per school. The students assigned to the ‘Self-help’ group (T1) were provided audio lessons which could be accessed through the IVR system by calling a registered phone number anytime during the 6-month intervention period. The students assigned to the ‘Assisted’ group (T2) received biweekly phone calls from a tutor to discuss the content covered in the IVR audio lessons in addition to access to the IVR audio lessons. The students in the control group did not receive any intervention.

The experimental design contains three study arms:
a) T1: Self-help group (69 schools, 1058 students) –was provided with information on how to access IVR-based lessons and how this program could result in improved educational outcomes (such as higher marks on the SSC exams). Participants will receive regular text messages from the IVR system.
b) T2: Assisted group (69 schools, 1022 students) – received the same information as students in T1. Additional treatment will be provided in the form of biweekly phone calls from a tutor. Participants will also receive regular text messages from the IVR system.
c) T3: Control (70 schools, 1050 students) - did not receive any intervention.
The focus of our study is to use the existing RCT design to examine the inclination to volunteer among students in the treatment and control groups.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer using Stata/BE 17.0
Randomization Unit
A two-stage randomization procedure was employed. In particular, randomly
selected 208 schools were assigned to two treatment groups and one control group, and then within each
school 15 students on average were randomly selected (in a way that ensures almost equal numbers of boys
and girls) from each of the 208 schools (for treatment in the treatment schools, and for data
collection in the control schools).
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
208 Schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
3,130 pupils
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
T1: Self-help group: 69 schools (units of randomization), 1058 students (units of observation)
T2: Assisted group: 69 schools (units of randomization), 1022 students (units of observation)
Control: 70 schools (units of randomization), 1050 students (units of observation)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
We use power calculations by the existing RCT(AEARCTR - 0010647). It indicates that, if we choose a 0.24 SD effect size, an α level of 0.05, a 0.2 intra-cluster correlation (ICC), and we have a cluster size of 15 students per school, we will require a minimum sample of 3,105 students from the 208 schools evenly distributed across the three treatment arms to achieve 80% statistical power.

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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