The Role of Non-Cognitive Skills in Improving Academic Performance

Last registered on October 02, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
The Role of Non-Cognitive Skills in Improving Academic Performance
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0004233
Initial registration date
May 24, 2019
Last updated
October 02, 2020, 4:51 AM EDT

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Lahore School of Economics

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Lahore School of Economics
PI Affiliation
Lahore School of Economics

Additional Trial Information

Status
On going
Start date
2019-03-18
End date
2021-02-28
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Improving educational attainment is an important concern for policy makers and academics. Despite significant progress in increasing enrolment at all levels of education, only half of the students in Punjab, Pakistan who appear for exams secure passing marks at undergraduate level (Punjab Development Statistics, 2016). Literature provides modest evidence of improvement in academic performance through instructional, health and nutrition interventions; and financial incentives to teachers and parents. Recent developments in behavioral economics suggests that low cost behavioral and psychological interventions that focus on development of non-cognitive skills can achieve the desired improvement in learning outcomes within existing educational systems without requiring the usual costly structural changes. We propose a soft touch, low cost intervention provided through visual aids, discussions and flyers to develop non-cognitive skills (in particular grit and a growth mindset) to overcome constraints to academic performance for college students. Specifically, our intervention aims to test if highlighting the importance of perseverance; and beliefs about intelligence and ability prompt behavior that translates into improved academic performance. We conduct a pilot to test the effectiveness of our intervention on a randomly selected sample of 360 students in 10 women-only, public colleges in Lahore, Punjab.

External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Haroon, Maryiam, Farah Said and Mahniya Zafar. 2020. "The Role of Non-Cognitive Skills in Improving Academic Performance." AEA RCT Registry. October 02. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.4233-2.3000000000000003
Former Citation
Haroon, Maryiam et al. 2020. "The Role of Non-Cognitive Skills in Improving Academic Performance." AEA RCT Registry. October 02. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/4233/history/76950
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Our intervention consists of guided discussions that stresses the importance of a growth mind-set.
Intervention Start Date
2019-03-18
Intervention End Date
2021-02-28

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Our key outcome variables are grit, students' mindset, self-reported self-efficacy and test scores.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
We will measure our primary outcome variables using the following definitions:
(i) Grit: We will test if the intervention has an immediate impact on the respondent’s ’grit’ using the Duckworth et al. (2007) scale.
(ii). Growth mindset: We will test if the intervention has an immediate impact on the students’ mindset (Blackwell et al., 2007).
(iii). Self efficacy: We will test if the intervention has an immediate effect on self-reported self-efficacy using the 10-item scale by (Schwarzer and Jerusalem, 1995).
(iv) Test scores: We will test if the intervention impacts student performance in end-of-year board examinations.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Our secondary outcome variables are how important is academic goal to respondent, whether a respondent is able to achieve her academic goal, respondent's commitment level for achieving academic goals and willingness to modify goal.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
We will measure our secondary outcome variables using the following definitions:
(i) Important academic goal: Response to a questions asking how important is academic goal, answered on a Likert scale, (ii). Achieve academic goal: Response to question about how likely does the respondent feel she will be able to achieve her academic goal, answered on a Likert scale, (iii) Commitment to academic goal: Response to a question on the commitment level for achieving academic goal, answered on a Likert scale, and (iv). Willing to modify goals: A binary variable which is equal to 1 if the respondent is willing to change her goals to SMART (Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic, Time based) goals after a goal setting exercise

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
This pilot study is expected to reach a sample of 360 students from intermediate and bachelors from 10 selected female-only, public degree colleges in urban areas of Lahore, Pakistan. We interview students who are in their first, second or third year of college, i.e. not final year students. We randomly divide the sample into treated and placebo students.

Experimental Design Details
Our pilot experiment is expected to reach a sample of 360 students from intermediate and bachelors from 10 selected female-only, public degree colleges in urban areas of Lahore, Pakistan. We interview students who are in their first, second or third year of college, i.e. not final year students. Final year students have to appear for centralized board exams and are often on study leave in their final semester, which would only a selected sample is available for survey interviews. Treatment assignment is done at the individual level using the random number generator in the data collection programme, SurveyCTO. Each student was equally likely to be assigned to the treated and the placebo sample.

We are currently collecting baseline data through face to face interviews carried out by a team of enumerators. We will collect administrative information on student scores on their end-of-year exams in June. A follow- up survey will be conducted in September 2019, at the start of the next academic year. Our intervention consists of guided discussions that stresses the importance of a growth mind-set. The discussions highlights the importance of sustained effort to achieve personal and performance growth. We motivate students to persevere in case of short term failures and to interpret short term failures as an opportunity to learn rather than lack of intelligence. Students in the placebo group are exposed to information on a subject unrelated to the treatment. The provision of the treatment or the placebo intervention is randomized at the individual (student) level. In addition to the treatment or placebo activity, all students attempt a goal setting activity, wherein they set 'SMART' - Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic, Time-bound, goals for their short and long term personal and academic achievements.
Randomization Method
Randomization done by computer
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
10 colleges
Sample size: planned number of observations
360
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
10 women only public colleges in Lahore.
Treatment group: 180 students
Control group: 180 students
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Research Ethics Review Committee, Lahore School of Economics
IRB Approval Date
2019-03-15
IRB Approval Number
RERC-032019-01
Analysis Plan

There are documents in this trial unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access to this information.

Request Information

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

There are documents in this trial unavailable to the public. Use the button below to request access to this information.

Request Information

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