Selective attention and learning in the classroom

Last registered on September 26, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Selective attention and learning in the classroom
Initial registration date
November 14, 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
November 20, 2018, 3:58 PM EST

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

Last updated
September 26, 2022, 4:50 AM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.



Primary Investigator


Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial is based on or builds upon one or more prior RCTs.
This trial seeks to establish whether agents selectively pay attention and retain information based on their type. The context is a college-level classroom lecture, party of a compulsory course, plus related mandatory reading material, with specific learning objectives examined through a written essay. The content of the lecture and reading material is on the environmental and health-related impact of the food industry. The hypothesis is that subjects who, before the lecture and exposure to reading material declared to be vegetarian or vegan, will retain more of the information they are presented with. This will be established through a text analysis of the written essays to be compared with a pre-registered list of concepts, which are related to the learning objectives. Effort and truthfulness in revealing the attained learning objectives are incentivised with study credit (grade for the essay) rather than monetary compensation. This trial aims to contribute to the literature on policy design to incentivise costly pro-social behaviour, and in particular on the merits and limits of information interventions.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Berlin, Maria. 2022. "Selective attention and learning in the classroom." AEA RCT Registry. September 26.
Former Citation
Berlin, Maria. 2022. "Selective attention and learning in the classroom." AEA RCT Registry. September 26.
Experimental Details


The intervention consists of the exposure to information on the externalities caused by the food industry, in the form of a classroom lecture and a set of mandatory reading material. Vegetarian and vegan subjects, who are hypothesised to be more receptive of this type of information, are randomly matched with other students and assigned to study groups of 4. Each group will then write an essay together.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The outcome variable will be the share of retained concepts by the individual groups.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
We defined and registered a list of concepts related to the learning objectives from the lecture and reading materials. Each written essay will be compared to this list. The outcome variable is the share of concepts from the list that are mentioned in the essay.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
At the baseline, the subjects filled in a short survey in which they report the quantity of meat they have consumed during the previous week, and can identify themselves as vegan or vegetarian if the definition applies. Exam-relevant essays are written by groups of 4 randomly matched students. The outcome variable (share of retained information) will be compared across groups that contain one or more vegan/vegetarian subjects and groups that don't.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
The work groups who jointly author the essay where composed at the beginning of the term. The groups are based on the student's registration number, which is randomly assigned at the moment of enrolment in the program.
Randomization Unit
The randomisation is at the work group level (4 students writing the essay together).
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
92 work groups. In the second trial 77 groups.
Sample size: planned number of observations
92 essays, one for each work group. The essay is compulsory, however there is the possibility to make up for it, in case the group has valid reason not to turn it in, to make it up by writing an essay question during the final exam in December. Not too many are expected to chose this option because it is disincentivized. In the second trial 77essays.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
11 of 92 groups contain a vegetarian or vegan student. So 11 treated units, and 81 control units.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials