Give me a break: The effect of in-class breaks on teaching quality

Last registered on December 06, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Give me a break: The effect of in-class breaks on teaching quality
Initial registration date
December 01, 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
December 06, 2023, 8:31 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

University of Minnesota

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Minnesota
PI Affiliation
University of Minnesota

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
I23, C93
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
In the field of education economics, recent research has concentrated on school quality and teacher effectiveness, this study pivots attention to the utilization of class time, aiming to empirically assess how in-class breaks may impact student cognitive engagement and, consequently, their attendance, satisfaction, and performance in a higher education context. Employing a randomized controlled trial, we will enroll approximately 400 to 500 students from the Principles of Microeconomics courses at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Participants will be randomly assigned to receive a structured in-class break of 5-8 minutes. The primary outcomes will be evaluated through final exam scores, attendance records, and student questionnaires developed to measure course satisfaction levels. This research aims to contribute to the current literature by exploring a relatively uncharted area of classroom management, potentially highlighting an additional tool for educators to foster a more conducive learning environment.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Fang, Francis(Haoyu), Paul Glewwe and Jovin Lasway. 2023. "Give me a break: The effect of in-class breaks on teaching quality." AEA RCT Registry. December 06.
Experimental Details


The intervention involves providing the treated group with 5-8 minute in-class breaks, while the counterfactual group will not receive any intervention (no in-class breaks). These breaks allow students to engage in informal discussions with the instructor or by themselves.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Class attendance; Course satisfaction; and Course performance
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
By examining these primary outcomes across the control and treated groups, our study intends to determine if the introduction of in-class breaks impact attendance, satisfaction, and performance in the setting of higher education economics courses. Our results could contribute to the understanding of effective classroom management approaches in enhancing the student’s learning environment.

Class Attendance: This is a significant measure showing the participation and commitment of the students to the course. We will assess whether the in-class breaks have a positive or negative substantial impact on the class attendance rates by comparing the attendance records from the treatment and control groups.

Course Satisfaction: This metric will be measured through a survey dwelling on the teaching satisfaction methods and enjoyment of the teaching engagement approach. By comparing the students’ satisfaction levels between the group receiving in-class breaks and the control group without breaks will show if the breaks influence higher course satisfaction rates.

Course Performance: It will be measured through final exam scores which highlights the student’s evaluation of understanding and learning. We will analyze the final test scores to determine if the treatment group exhibits any potential differences in academic performance compared to the control group.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Instructor's Class A will receive treatment in Fall 2023 while Instructor's Class B won't; in Fall 2024, the treatments will switch. Similarly, in Spring 2024, Instructor's Class C will receive treatment while in Spring 2025, it won't.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Done using random number generator in an Excel spreadsheet.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
400-500 Students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
200-250 Students
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
University of Minnesota IRB
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number