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Project SUCCESS: a field experiment on social support and academic achievement in Further Education Colleges in the UK
Last registered on September 20, 2017

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Project SUCCESS: a field experiment on social support and academic achievement in Further Education Colleges in the UK
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0001644
Initial registration date
October 02, 2016
Last updated
September 20, 2017 1:29 PM EDT
Location(s)
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Behavioural Insights Team, UCL Institute of Education
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Behavioural Insights Team, University of Oxford Blavatnik School of Government
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2016-10-03
End date
2017-12-20
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Using text messages to motivate, inform, and remind individuals at key moments has shown to be a promising research area. We seek to answer whether the delivery mechanism of text messages can be effectively used to leverage students' social support network. A substantial literature shows that adolescents who with supportive parents, peers and teachers do better in school than those who cannot identify such sources of support. This study harnesses these relationships to improve student attainment. The process is as follows; students nominate one or two ‘study supporters’ via a short online survey - people whom they communicate with often and who support them. Students are subsequently individually randomised to one of the following arms: (1) control (2) study supporter receives messages, (3) student receives messages and (4) both study supporter and student receive messages. This allows us to test whether what the optimal way to provide information and triggering support might be.
Registration Citation
Citation
Groot, Bibi and Michael Sanders. 2017. "Project SUCCESS: a field experiment on social support and academic achievement in Further Education Colleges in the UK." AEA RCT Registry. September 20. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1644-5.0.
Former Citation
Groot, Bibi, Bibi Groot and Michael Sanders. 2017. "Project SUCCESS: a field experiment on social support and academic achievement in Further Education Colleges in the UK." AEA RCT Registry. September 20. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1644/history/21619.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
All learners who opt in to participating in the research will nominate up to two ‘study supporters’; people in their social networks they think would encourage and support them in their studies. Students are subsequently individually randomised to one of the following arms: (1) control, where no one receives text messages (2) study supporter receives text messages, (3) learner receives text messages and (4) both study supporter and learner receive the messages.

Once students are individually randomised to treatment arms, messages are sent using a text messaging platform. The first text is sent out in the students’ autumn half term. As successful communication with Study Supporters (and students) depends on content being timely and relevant, the research team will work closely with the Heads of Maths & English at Colleges to write the prompts. This ensures that the content of the messages is sufficiently specific to the college’s exam schedule and pedagogical practices. The intervention runs for the full academic year 2016/17.
Intervention Start Date
2016-11-10
Intervention End Date
2017-06-30
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
The two primary outcome measures, will be attendance rate in their maths and/or English GCSE classes, and the final grade achieved for the subject (GCSE: A*-C is pass, below C is fail). This data is collected using the college administrative datasets.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Students are subsequently individually randomised to one of the following arms: (1) control, where no one receives text messages (2) study supporter receives text messages, (3) learner receives text messages and (4) both study supporter and learner receive the messages.

Individuals (Study Supporters and learners) then receive weekly messages for the full academic year 2016/17. At the end of the year, the research team collects student level information on attendance and attainment from participating colleges.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomisation performed using Stata.
Randomization Unit
Individual randomisation
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
0
Sample size: planned number of observations
1000 (after opt-in)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
250 students per treatment arm, evenly distributed across 4 arms (including control).
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Power calculations, adjusted for pre-treatment covariates and baseline outcome measures. We will be collecting learners’ opt-in responses before randomisation. Binary outcome measure (pass/fail). With power set to 0.80 and alpha set to 0.05, and N = 250 per arm, observable treatment effect = 5.9%, MDES = .141.
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
UCL Institute of Education
IRB Approval Date
2016-09-23
IRB Approval Number
N/A
Analysis Plan

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Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS