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Showing Life Opportunities: Increasing opportunity-driven entrepreneurship and STEM careers through online courses in schools.
Initial registration date
December 01, 2018
July 19, 2020 8:23 AM EDT
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University of Kassel
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
We plan to provide an RCT to assess the effect of online courses in schools on intentions, career-related actions, and career choices to become an opportunity driven entrepreneur or choose a STEM type of education. We plan to work with to 15-17-year-old students (about 20,000 students) in 110 schools. We will randomly assign schools either to treatment (and receiving the entrepreneurship and science content online), or placebo-control (receiving a placebo treatment of online courses from standard curricula) groups. Within the treatment group, we randomize at the grade-level the type of entrepreneurship curricula, and then randomize the order of entrepreneurship and science courses to measure the short-term effects of each component and to mitigate order effects. In addition, we cross-randomize schools to a role model treatment of interviews with successful scientists and entrepreneurs. In addition, we provide information about career options. We then plan to follow subjects until (at least) age 19, to measure both short- and medium-term outcomes.
We provide an online course in schools over 12 weeks in 2019. The courses will contain the following content: (1) entrepreneurship-related soft skills – this will cover personal initiative and negotiation skills; (2) basic scientific methods – this will cover ideas of the experimental method, and basic statistics; and (3) role model interviews with entrepreneurs and scientists. Placebo courses will be offered to a control group for measuring the overall effectiveness of these courses. Placebo courses consist of Spanish grammar and English. In addition, we provide information about career options.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes (end points)
(A) Career attitudes: Interest in entrepreneurial and scientific careers
(B) Learning: Students’ performance on subject-specific tests (C) Learning changes behavior: Lab-in-Field experiments.
(D) Steps-towards career: Action-Based Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
(A) Career attitudes.
We elicit career intentions, and self-efficacy level (Using content from OCTOSKILL and others). The questions are asked through an online platform to all students in all treatment arms. (B) Learning. Detailed description.
Subject matter specific tests measure student knowledge in business, science, math, and literacy outcomes. The tests are provided through an online platform to all students in all treatment arms. (C) Learning changes behavior.
We aim to measure if specific courses affect behavior in the incentivized tasks. We elicit confidence, negotiation skills, observational learning, and creativity level in the incentivized lab-in-field experiments. We will randomly select the incentivized task for each class stratifying on treatment arms. Thus, we will cut the time spent by students on task after the courses. The incentivized task will take around 10-15 minutes after each course. (D) Steps-towards career.
We will advertise the set of career-related activities about entrepreneurship and science. Namely, we will put (a) Posters in schools how to request career-related information, (b) Posters in schools about the interview challenge, and send advertisement e-mail about (c) Business plan and science project competition. Then, we will track students’ actions and the results of the following actions to know if the students exert effort to find more about career plans or take steps towards one or another career options. This activity includes: (a) Sending SMS requests to get information about career options; (b) Participation in an interview challenge, where they are asked to interview an entrepreneur and scientist; (c) Participation in the business plan and science competition.
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
A. The structure of the Intervention.
All pupils face a baseline test on different subjects’ knowledge and career attitudes on the online platform. We will also elicit behavior in incentivized games. Then, under the mentorship of their teachers, students are randomly selected to pass courses on Entrepreneurship and Science or academic reinforcement. They also watch video interviews with Entrepreneurship and Scientists or video from standard education curricula: Educa TV.
Before, during, and after the intervention, we will advertise a set of course-related activities, e.g. information about the university options (see detailed description in outcomes subsection). That will allow us to help interested students to practice their knowledge and choose a potentially better career. It will also bring us measurable action-based outcomes. We plan to pilot the online courses and parts of intervention in three public schools. B. Randomization
We plan to randomize different parts fo the program at the four levels: school, grade, class, and individual level. 1. School level randomization. We randomize on the school level whether the students receive (1) entrepreneurship and science or (2) placebo courses. 2. Grade level randomization. We randomize at the grade level (10th or 11th grade) whether the students receive personal initiative or negotiations skills courses among the schools that receive Entrepreneurship and Science courses. 3. Class level randomization. At the class level, we randomize if the students watch role model videos (or Educa TV videos) and order of courses and role model videos.
4. Individual-level randomization. At the individual level, we randomize the individual elements of courses, interview sections, information about career options, and if students get an invitation by e-mail to participate in business and science competition.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization done in office by a computer.
Individual-level randomization done through an online platform.
There are four different levels of randomization:
- School level: We randomize treatment or placebo courses at the school level.
- Grade level: Type of entrepreneurial training within treated schools at the grade level.
- Class level: Order of courses, the presence of role model videos at the class level.
- Individual level: Individual elements of courses, interview sections, information about career options, an invitation to participate in business and science competition at the individual level.
Was the treatment clustered?
Sample size: planned number of clusters
1. We plan to work with 110 schools. These will be randomized into 70 treatment schools and 40 control schools.
2. Within the 70 treatment schools, there will be approximately 140 grades. We will randomize type of entrepreneurial courses at the grade level.
3.1 Within 110 schools, there will be approximately 550 class. We will randomize the presence of role model or placebo videos in these classes.
3.2 Within the 70 treatment schools, there will be approximately 350 classes. We will randomize the ordering of courses in these classes. 4. Randomization of individual elements of courses, interview sections, information about career options, an invitation to participate in business and science competition are not clustered, but randomized on the indiviudal level.
Sample size: planned number of observations
We plan to work with 110 schools and will work with levels 10 and 11 in these schools, for 220 grades. There are approximately 5 classes per school, so approximately 550 classes in total, and approximately 180 students per school, for aproximately 20,000 students in total.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Main intervention: 70 schools receive treatment courses, 40 placebo courses.
Type of entrepreneurial courses intervention: 70 grades recieve personal initiative courses, 70 grades recieve negotiations course.
Role model video intervention: Approximately 275 classes are exposed to role model, approximately 275 classes are exposed to placebo videos.
Course order: Approximately 175 classes are exposed first to entrepreneurship-related soft skills course, approximately 175 classes are exposed first to basic scientific methods.
Information and competition treatment: Approximately 5000 students receive detailed information about career options and invitation by e-mail to participate in business and science competition, approximately 5000 students receive only detailed information about career options, approximately 5000 students receive no information about the career options and invited to by e-mail to participate in business and science competition, 5000 students control.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Unit of randomization - school.
Career attitudes: We assume mean of 0.18, baseline standard deviation of 0.38. The MDE is 0.06SD ( for ICC of 0.01) the MDE is 0.18SD (for ICC of 0.1).
Students’ performance on subject-specific tests: We assume a baseline mean of 713, the standard deviation of 119, ICC=0.3, and autocorrelation of 0.5 (baseline scores predicts follow-up). Then MDE is 26 points on the test (0.22 SD).
Unit of randomization - class.
Career attitudes: We assume mean of 0.18, baseline standard deviation of 0.38. The MDE is 0.05SD ( for ICC of 0.01) the MDE is 0.08SD (for ICC of 0.1).
Students’ performance on subject-specific tests: We assume a baseline mean of 713, the standard deviation of 119, ICC=0.3, and autocorrelation of 0.5 (baseline scores predicts follow-up). Then MDE is 12 points on the test (0.1 SD).
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
Comité de Ética de Investigación en Seres Humanos Universidad San Francisco de Quito
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number