Motivations to Major in Economics
Last registered on January 09, 2019

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Motivations to Major in Economics
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0002745
Initial registration date
September 14, 2018
Last updated
January 09, 2019 6:57 AM EST
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Oregon State University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Oregon State University
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2018-09-20
End date
2019-10-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Why do students major in Economics? Why is the proportion of women who study Economics so low? This study will assess whether students respond to messages about majoring in Economics, and whether this response varies by student gender. The experiment will occur in two phases. In the first phase, we will randomly assign students currently enrolled in Economics Principles courses to receive messages emphasizing the rewarding careers available to Economics majors or the financial returns to the major. These groups will be compared to students receiving no such messages and to a group receiving a "placebo" message with basic information about the major. In the second phase, all students receiving a grade of B- or better will receive a message after the course is over encouraging them to major in Economics. A randomly chosen subset of these students will receive a message encouraging them to persist in Economics even if their grade was disappointing. Results will shed light on student motivations to major in Economics, which messages can change their choices, and whether female students respond disproportionately to certain messages about the major.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Pugatch, Todd and Elizabeth Schroeder. 2019. "Motivations to Major in Economics." AEA RCT Registry. January 09. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/2745/history/40074
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The intervention will occur in two phases. The study population is students enrolled in Economics Principles courses at Oregon State University.

The first phase occurs while students are currently enrolled in an Economics Principles course. Students will be sent email messages emphasizing different aspects of the Economics major:

1. financial returns
2. rewarding careers

The second phase occurs after students have completed an Economics Principles course. Students receiving a grade of B- or better will receive a message encouraging them to persist in Economics even if their grade was disappointing.
Intervention Start Date
2018-11-12
Intervention End Date
2019-09-28
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
intention to major or minor in Economics (self-reported and administrative data)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
knowledge about Economics major (financial returns)
viewership of material about Economics majors
appointments with Economics academic advisor
enrollment in subsequent Economics courses
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Phase One: students enrolled in Economics Principles courses at Oregon State University will be randomly assigned to one of the following groups:

1. control group: no email
2. placebo email: basic information about the Economics major
3. financial returns email
4. rewarding careers email (link to AEA video)
5. rewarding careers email (link to video testimonial by Oregon State University alumni or current students)

Phase Two: students who received a grade of B- or better in Economics Principles courses at Oregon State University will be randomly assigned to one of the following groups after completing the course:

1. control: email encouraging student to major in Economics
2. treatment: encouragement email with message to persist in Economics even if grade was disappointing
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
randomization done in office by a computer using random number generator
Randomization Unit
individual student
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
12 sections of Economics Principles courses
Sample size: planned number of observations
Phase 1: 3,000 students Phase 2: 1,200 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Phase 1: 600 students will be in each of the 5 treatment arms (including control group)
Phase 2: 600 students will be in each of the 2 treatment arms (including control group)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
MDE for outcome "Intend to major in Economics (binary)": 4.1 percentage points (assumed control mean = 5%) MDE for outcome "Intend to major in Economics (continuous)": 6.2 percentage points (assumed control mean = 15%) Calculations assume 600 observations per arm, 5% test size, and 80% power.
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Oregon State University
IRB Approval Date
2018-02-08
IRB Approval Number
8402
Analysis Plan

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