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Evaluating the impact of an educational program based on building blocks
Last registered on April 27, 2018


Trial Information
General Information
Evaluating the impact of an educational program based on building blocks
Initial registration date
April 25, 2018
Last updated
April 27, 2018 1:40 PM EDT
Primary Investigator
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Additional Trial Information
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Using a randomized control trial in Recife, a big city located at the Northeast in Brazil, this work collected data that will allow us evaluate the impact of a building block program on the development of cognitive and socio-emotional skills, and the mechanism behind this impact. We investigate the impact of the program at 3rd and 5th grade student (If the students are at correct school-age, they should be 9 years old at the 3rd grade, and 11 years old at the 5th grade.) in 30 public elementary schools. Half of the schools were allocate to treated group, and the other 15 were allocated to the control group. Since Recife is a big city with lots of geografic heterogeneity, we did a pairwise randomization based on the geographic location of the schools. We collected two rounds of data in 2014 of third and fifth graders enrolled in 30 elementary public schools (15 participants and 15 control-group schools). In both baseline (prior to the program) and follow-up (by the end school year) rounds, we collected data on the students' socio-emotional components (Big Five and Locus of Control) and five cognitive abilities: verbal-logical reasoning, abstract reasoning, spatial reasoning, numerical reasoning and logical reasoning.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Pinto, Cristine and Vladimir Ponczek. 2018. "Evaluating the impact of an educational program based on building blocks." AEA RCT Registry. April 27. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1562-1.0.
Former Citation
Pinto, Cristine, Vladimir Ponczek and Vladimir Ponczek. 2018. "Evaluating the impact of an educational program based on building blocks." AEA RCT Registry. April 27. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1562/history/28895.
Experimental Details
The intervention that combines activities using LEGO blocks with the core school curriculum. During these activities, the students are divided in groups, and they need to assume specific roles in this group. For example, one student needs to lead the discussion, another one takes notes, etc. The idea is that the activities involve curriculum content (like math concepts, science, etc.) but also help students develop cognitive skills (like reasoning and problem solving) and socio-emotional skills (like leadership, grid, extroversion, etc.). The schools that participate in program receive blocks kits with specific instructions for teachers and students. In addition, the teachers receive training to implement these activities. In each classroom, the students did the activities (one-hour session) during the regular school hours. It was not an extra-curricular activity.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Cognitive abilities, socioemotional abilities, proficiency scores, student's network
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
student's network measures as the classmates with whom the student is connected.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We use pairwise randomization to allocate 30 public schools located at the city of Recife (Brazil) into treated and control groups. Students at 3rd and 5th grades of the 15 treated schools participate in the program, and the students at 3rd and 5th grades of the control schools did not participate in the program.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by computer
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
30 schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
About 2700 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
15 schools control, 15 schools with the building blocks program
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Intervention Completion Date
December 20, 2014, 12:00 AM +00:00
Is data collection complete?
Data Collection Completion Date
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
30 schools
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
1,877 with information in both fields
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
15 schools control, 15 schools treated
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?

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Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)