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The Effect of a Minor Informational Intervention on Courseload and Time to Degree
Last registered on June 02, 2017

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
The Effect of a Minor Informational Intervention on Courseload and Time to Degree
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0002234
Initial registration date
June 02, 2017
Last updated
June 02, 2017 6:33 PM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
CALIFORNIA STATE UNIV-FULLERTON
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
CALIFORNIA STATE UNIV-FULLERTON
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2017-06-12
End date
2023-07-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
This experiment is designed with the intent of increasing the proportion of students at a regional public university taking a full course load (five courses per semester) rather than a partial course load (four or fewer courses per semester). Partial course loads are partially responsible for a high proportion of students at the university taking more than four years to complete their degree. In the intervention, students are provided with different forms of encouragement to take a full course load. Different college orientation groups are randomly assigned to receive (1) no encouragement, (2) encouragement to take a full course load with no reasoning, (3) encouragement with financial reasoning, (4) encouragement with social-normalizing reasoning, and (5) encouragement with both financial and social-normalizing reasoning. We then observe course-taking and persistence behavior in the following years.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Gill, Andrew and Nick Huntington-Klein. 2017. "The Effect of a Minor Informational Intervention on Courseload and Time to Degree." AEA RCT Registry. June 02. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.2234-1.0.
Former Citation
Gill, Andrew, Nick Huntington-Klein and Nick Huntington-Klein. 2017. "The Effect of a Minor Informational Intervention on Courseload and Time to Degree." AEA RCT Registry. June 02. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2234/history/18239.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
In the intervention, students are provided with different forms of encouragement to take a full course load. Different college orientation groups are randomly assigned to receive (1) no encouragement, (2) encouragement to take a full course load with no reasoning, (3) encouragement with financial reasoning, (4) encouragement with social-normalizing reasoning, and (5) encouragement with both financial and social-normalizing reasoning. These information sheets are provided during orientation. There is no other intervention aside from the information being presented and being made available through the information sheet.
Intervention Start Date
2017-06-12
Intervention End Date
2017-08-17
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Outcomes will be observed in several stages. In each case, we will use administrative data to calculate whether each student is taking a full or partial course load, and link this information to the orientation group they were in.

The first report will examine differences in the rate of taking a full course load between treatment groups during the Fall and Spring semesters following orientation.
The second report will examine differences in the rate of taking a full course load between treatment groups during the first four years after enrollment, as well as differences in four-year graduation rates.
The final report will examine differences in the rate of taking a full course load between treatment groups during the Fall and Spring semesters following orientation.
The second report will examine differences in the number of terms in which a student took a full course load between treatment groups during the first six years after enrollment, as well as differences in four, five, and six-year graduation rates.

In each case, students in STEM orientation groups will be evaluated separately, looking for differences between treatment groups specifically for students with intentions to major in STEM.

In total, there are seven outcomes: taking a full course load in the Fall term after the intervention, taking a full course load in the Spring term after the intervention, number of terms taking a full course load in the first four years after the intervention, number of terms taking a full course load in the first six years after the intervention, and four, five, and six-year graduation rates. These outcomes will be evaluated for the sample as a whole as well as for the STEM subsample.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Randomization occurs at the level of orientation groups. Each orientation group will be randomly assigned to receive one of five treatments. Each orientation group is made up of students intending to major in the same college within the university. For example, one orientation group might be made up entirely of students planning to get a degree from the business school. There are 18 orientation days, and so students within each college will be observed under multiple treatments.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization will be done in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
There are 18 days in which orientation activities are held. On each of these days, roughly 450 students register. These students are then divided into groups based on the college in which their intended major is housed. These groups are the randomization unit.
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
81
Sample size: planned number of observations
7000
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
16
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Comparing each treatment to the control and assuming independence between individuals in the same orientation groups, there is 80% power to detect a difference of 5 percentage points in any of the rates being studied (the rate of taking a full course load in a given term, the proportion of terms in which a full course load is taken, or graduation rate in a given year). The base rates of each of these is similar enough that the minimum detectable effect size is effectively the same.
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Institutional Review Board, California State University Fullerton
IRB Approval Date
2017-05-21
IRB Approval Number
HSR-17-0176