Diversifying Economics in the Undergraduate Classroom: Plug and Play Video Modules with Diverse Role Models, Relevant Research, and Active Learning

Last registered on May 09, 2024


Trial Information

General Information

Diversifying Economics in the Undergraduate Classroom: Plug and Play Video Modules with Diverse Role Models, Relevant Research, and Active Learning
Initial registration date
April 28, 2024

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 09, 2024, 1:50 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

Salisbury University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Louisville
PI Affiliation
Valdosta State University
PI Affiliation
Williams College
PI Affiliation
University of West Georgia
PI Affiliation
Manhattan College

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
NSF Award Number 2315701
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
This project addresses the pervasive lack of diversity in the field of economics, which hinders the development of inclusive policies and perpetuates outdated teaching practices. Despite advancements in diversity within other STEM disciplines, economics struggles to attract and retain a diverse student body, resulting in antiquated methods and a faculty composition that lags behind other academic fields. This research initiative proposes a scalable intervention focused on enhancing gender and racial diversity in economics by developing a series of videos and accompanying curricular materials. These resources aim to introduce diverse role models, relevant research, and active learning strategies into undergraduate economics classrooms. Targeting principles of economics courses, the project seeks to broaden perceptions of economists and their studies, foster a sense of belonging among students, and increase the likelihood of retention for women and historically excluded groups in the economics profession. The intervention comprises "plug and play" modules, featuring professionally produced videos and evidence-based curricular materials, designed to expose students to exciting and relevant topics in diverse economists' research. The hypothesis is that these modules will positively influence perceptions about economics, enhance students' sense of belonging and self-efficacy, and improve learning outcomes, persistence, and retention among diverse students in economics. This project contributes to the literature on diversity in education by addressing gaps in existing mentoring and profession-climate improvement programs, targeting an earlier stage in the educational pipeline, and providing instructors with easily implementable tools for interactive teaching in economics.

Registration Citation

Caviglia-Harris, Jill et al. 2024. "Diversifying Economics in the Undergraduate Classroom: Plug and Play Video Modules with Diverse Role Models, Relevant Research, and Active Learning." AEA RCT Registry. May 09. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.12420-1.0
Experimental Details


This project seeks to improve gender and race diversity within economics through a pedagogical intervention that targets principles of economics courses. We will create a series of short videos that complement topics covered in most principles of economics courses and which feature scholars from underrepresented groups in economics, specifically women and people of color. We include accompanying curricular materials with these videos. Students in the intervention will engage with at least three modules. Each module includes an in-class video and discussion questions that are outlined in the curricular materials and are to be led by the classroom instructor.

The objective of this intervention is to increase undergraduate economics students’ exposure to diverse role models, relevant research and active learning while minimizing cost to instructors. This is a scalable intervention designed to increase the numbers and success of women and other historically excluded groups in the economics profession.

We expect that the economists and topics in our videos will broaden student perceptions of who economists are and what economists study by providing counter-stereotypical role models. Our intervention will present a large number and variety of role models: we will include at least 2 diverse economists per video and produce 5 videos in total.

Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Subjective measures of (1) economics identity, (2) sense of belonging, (3) perceptions of who economists are and what they do, and (4) intentions to continue in economics.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The primary outcomes will be generated by a student survey. This survey will ask the student questions related to their undergraduate experience including their sense of belonging at the institution and in the class. Students will be asked what economists study. They will be asked a variety of questions about how they identify with economists as well as their future intention to take more economics courses. Sense of belonging is an established concept and we will use validated questions to ask about it; we will gather data on economics identity using questions constructed to analogize existing concepts in "STEM identity."

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Retention in Economics
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
A secondary outcome of interest is to measure retention of the student in the economics discipline. We will measure this outcome using three post experiment endpoints. First, did the student take a subsequent economics class after the initial class? Second, did the student declare a minor or major in economics? Third, did the student graduate with an economics undergraduate degree?

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We will recruit economics instructors who will be teaching a principles of microeconomics course in two different semesters. The first semester will be the control semester. The second semester will be the treatment semester. In both semesters, the instructor will use the survey at the start and end of the semester as pre-survey and post-survey respectively. In the treatment semester, the instructor must use three of the classroom modules we provide in class; in each use, they must dedicate time in class to show the video and use the curricular materials we provide for an activity.

While each instructor will have a control semester first and a treatment semester after, we will stagger the rollout of the experiment across adopting instructor cohorts so that, in general, in every semester of study, we have some instructors who are running a control semester and some who are running a treatment semester.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization will be done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Randomization will be done at the instructor level.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
We expect to have 40-60 participating instructors. Each instructor will participate in two semesters with all of the principles classes they teach in each semester
Sample size: planned number of observations
For each instructor, we expect an average class size of 40 students per class. Therefore we expect to have 40-60 instructors x 2 semesters x 40 students / instructor = 3200-4800 students in total in the classes. If 10% of students refuse to consent to participate, we would then have 2880-4320 students.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Approximately half of the students will be in control, and half in treatment, semesters, so we expect 1440-2160 control and 1440-2160 treatment students.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
We perform a power analysis using a two-tailed test with an alpha of 0.05 and power of 80%. We calculate upper and lower bounds of effect sizes and standard deviations using data from a study conducted at one of the PI institutions (Caviglia-Harris 2022). The sample size is n=392, which is based on the discrete impact of a Living Learning Community on retention. This program had a percent success=91.3 for the control group and 97.7 for the treatment group. The effect size is E=0.26 and the s.d.=0.735.

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
e Salisbury University (SU) Institutional Review Board (IRB)
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Protocol #250