Information and Students´ Preferences for Higher Education: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in Colombia
Last registered on December 28, 2018

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Information and Students´ Preferences for Higher Education: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in Colombia
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0003726
Initial registration date
December 26, 2018
Last updated
December 28, 2018 8:04 AM EST
Location(s)
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Pontificia Universidad Javeriana
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
KU Leuven
PI Affiliation
ICFES - Colombian Institute for the Promotion of Higher Education
PI Affiliation
Pontificia Universidad Javeriana
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2018-07-18
End date
2019-02-15
Secondary IDs
Abstract
We designed a randomized controlled trial (RCT) where we integrate a discrete choice experiment (DCE) to estimate the causal effects of providing information on students’ preferences for higher education (HE). This new approach illuminates not only which HE attributes are more likely to play a role in students’ decisions, but also whether it is possible to modify students´ choices by means of information. Schools are randomized in one control and two treatment groups. The intervention consisted of providing information on general facts regarding HE. In addition, the information provided to treatment group 1 emphasized financial returns and enrollment rates in accredited universities, whereas for treatment group 2 emphasized financial aid and university costs in accredited universities.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Abadía, Luz et al. 2018. "Information and Students´ Preferences for Higher Education: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment in Colombia." AEA RCT Registry. December 28. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3726/history/39648
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
We run the experiment on low-income Colombian students in 10th grade. The intervention consists of 9 statements presenting factual information regarding higher education (HE). The first 7 statements are the same for both treatment groups. However, the last 2 statement differ for each group: treatment 1 emphasizes on HE returns and enrollment rates in accredited universities, whereas treatment 2 emphasizes on financial aid and university costs in accredited universities.
Intervention Start Date
2018-07-31
Intervention End Date
2019-02-15
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Shift on preference for Higher Education (HE) attributes due to information treatments.
Importance of attibutes in HE decisions in the presence or absent of information.
Willingness to pay (WTP) to obtain better attribute levels in the presence or absent of information.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We run the experiment on low-income Colombian students in 10th grade. We chose a stratified random sample of Colombian schools which was representative of the population of schools across a number of dimensions (i.e. % of eligible for need-base scholarships, proportion of female, full-day at school and conflict victim.). We randomized the schools in 3 different groups, checking balance for the above-mentioned characteristics. We left out from the sample those schools for which contact information was not available. We have reached out 99 schools with at least one valid contact information (land phone, cellphone or email). The intervention consists of 9 statements presenting factual information regarding higher education (HE). The first 7 statements are the same for both treatment groups. However, the last 2 statement differ for each group: treatment 1 emphasizes on HE returns and enrollment rates in accredited universities, whereas treatment 2 emphasizes on financial aid and university costs in accredited universities. To built the statements, we gathered information from official government websites, focusing on statistics which are representative of the low-income student population. Likewise, to built the DCE, we: analized previous surveys of senior high school students, collected information from non-structural interview to 2 professionals working at the Ministry of Education, performed two focus groups in low-income schools with students in 10th grade, and tested final survey with freshman students at college.



Experimental Design Details
We run the experiment on low-income Colombian students in 10th grade. We chose a stratified random sample of Colombian schools which was representative of the population of schools across a number of dimensions (i.e. % of eligible for need-base scholarships, proportion of female, full-day at school and conflict victim.). We randomized the schools in 3 different groups, checking balance for the above-mentioned characteristics. We left out from the sample those schools for which contact information was not available. We have reached out 99 schools with at least one valid contact information (land phone, cellphone or email). The intervention consists of 9 statements presenting factual information regarding higher education (HE). The first 7 statements are the same for both treatment groups. However, the last 2 statement differ for each group: treatment 1 emphasizes on HE returns and enrollment rates in accredited universities, whereas treatment 2 emphasizes on financial aid and university costs in accredited universities. To built the statements, we gathered information from official government websites, focusing on statistics which are representative of the low-income student population. Likewise, to built the DCE, we: analized previous surveys of senior high school students, collected information from non-structural interview to 2 professionals working at the Ministry of Education, performed two focus groups in low-income schools with students in 10th grade, and tested final survey with freshman students at college. Thinking in increasing the chances that students actually “absorb” the statements, we adopted a “myth or reality” format, so far not presented in previous literature. Students were given a statement and then have to vote “myth” or “reality” according to their beliefs. Right after voting each item, they were told if the answer was right o not and showed additional information and/or explanation of the statement (e.g. statement: myth or reality? Less than 25% of the credits given by the ICETEX –governmental entity in charge of credits for HE- are given to low-income students. Explanation: Myth! 69% of students’ beneficiated from ICETEX loans are low-income students). The information presented to the students were gathered from official government websites. We were careful in presenting statements according to their socioeconomic status (i.e. credits rules and returns differ according to socioeconomic characteristics). Statements tended to be general information as opposed to particular information (i.e. we say: in general, accredited universities tend to have higher quality than non-accredited; as supposed to X university tend to be better quality than Y).
Randomization Method
Randomization was done by a computer, checking balance on schools observable characteristics.
Randomization Unit
Schools
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
99 schools (and 205 classes)

Sample size: planned number of observations
2553 students We performed a power analysis in order to plan the minimum number of observations using “optimal design software”. With a planned number of 100 clusters, power parameter equal 0.9 and type I error of 0.05, it is required on average 5 students per cluster. This also implies a minimum sample size of 500 students.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Control group =34 schools
Treatment 1 group=35 schools
Treatment 2 group=30 schools
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
Pontificia Univerisdad javeriana
IRB Approval Date
2018-07-04
IRB Approval Number
FCEA-DF-0411-2018
Post-Trial
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Intervention
Is the intervention completed?
No
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
No
Program Files
Program Files
Reports and Papers
Preliminary Reports
Relevant Papers