Rabbits and Study Habits: The Effect of Virtual Pacesetters on Student Effort

Last registered on October 07, 2018

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Rabbits and Study Habits: The Effect of Virtual Pacesetters on Student Effort
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0003356
Initial registration date
October 05, 2018

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
October 07, 2018, 6:16 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
University of Groningen

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

Status
On going
Start date
2018-09-10
End date
2019-02-28
Secondary IDs
Abstract
This project will use a new educational technology to examine the effect of study planning interventions on student effort and outcomes. The setting is a first-year academic course in economics with a large and diverse student population. The educational technology enables precise measurement of study time during this course. These data will be subsequently used to construct personalized feedback that helps students to track real-time progress relative to their initial study goals and plans (elicited during weekly in-class surveys). We will evaluate whether the planning interventions improve student effort and learning outcomes (as captured by the performance on the final exam).
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Romensen, Gert-Jan. 2018. "Rabbits and Study Habits: The Effect of Virtual Pacesetters on Student Effort." AEA RCT Registry. October 07. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.3356
Former Citation
Romensen, Gert-Jan. 2018. "Rabbits and Study Habits: The Effect of Virtual Pacesetters on Student Effort." AEA RCT Registry. October 07. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3356/history/35383
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2018-10-06
Intervention End Date
2018-11-01

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
1) The time spent (in minutes) on the MicroApp by student i during day t. To verify whether the student is indeed active on the MicroApp, fifteen minutes of inactivity (no mouse movements) will activate a pop-up, requesting the student to respond by clicking on a button. In case of no response, the student will be automatically logged out (after sixty seconds) and the counting of time will stop for that particular session.

2) The performance of student i on the final exam (measured as total points out of a maximum of 60 points)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
1) We have chosen to focus on time spent on the MicroApp rather than, for example, the number of completed practice tasks on the app. There are three main reasons for this. First, the former measure of study effort is less confounded by ability. Second, study effort on the MicroApp may also, among others, entail reading recaps or the feedback to the practice tasks, which is not well-captured by the latter measure. Third, by focusing the study goal on the time spent on the app, rather than the number of solved tasks, we avoid creating perverse incentives for skipping feedback and quickly solving many tasks by submitting random answers.

2) Treatment variation only takes place in the second part of the course (after the mid-term exam). For this reason, we look at performance on the final exam rather than the overall course grade.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
1) A dummy variable equal to 1 if student i reached his or her study goal (as written down in the weekly in-class survey), 0 otherwise.



Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
2) This secondary outcome provides further insights on whether the interventions helped students to reach their initial study goals.

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Discussed in Experimental Design (Hidden)
Experimental Design Details
The study is a framed field experiment with three experimental conditions (described in Interventions (hidden)). Subjects are randomly allocated to one of the three conditions (between-subjects design). Randomization is stratified based on group type (first-year students, minor students, pre-master students).
Randomization Method
Randomization is done in office by a computer. All enrolled students in the course will be randomly allocated to one of the experimental conditions. Randomization will be stratified along two dimensions: gender and study phase (regular first-year students, pre-master students, or minor finance students). With regard to the study phase, the majority of the enrolled students in the microeconomics course are regular first-year students. Some students, however, are pre-master students or minor finance students who take the course as a mandatory elective.
Randomization Unit
Individual (at the student level)
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
About 550 students
Sample size: planned number of observations
About 550 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
About 183 students in each experimental condition (control, planner, planner plus pacesetter)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Institutional Review Board of the Faculty of Economics and Business at the University of Groningen
IRB Approval Date
2018-10-02
IRB Approval Number
#RDMPFEB-20180412-3480
Analysis Plan

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Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
No
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