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Gender Mentor Effects in University
Initial registration date
August 26, 2019
August 29, 2019 8:44 AM EDT
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University of Zurich
Other Primary Investigator(s)
Additional Trial Information
This study examines the impacts of mentors, especially their gender and gender-related characteristics, on college students' educational expectation, performance and persistence. First-semester bachelor students can voluntarily register for a mentoring program. If registered, they will be randomly assigned to an upper-year student mentor from the same study program. Thanks to the exogenous variation of mentors across groups, I can study the causal mentor effects.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes (end points)
(1) Expectations and beliefs about education outcomes;
(2) Performance in first-semester courses and later courses; (3) Dropout, major choice and degree completion.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Educational expectations and beliefs will be measured in the student survey. Educational outcomes in the short run and long run will be acquired from university administrative data.
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Study habits (e.g., study hours); beliefs about ability and gender roles; self-esteem.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
These outcomes will be measured in the student endline survey.
The experiment will randomly assign mentees (first-semester students) to mentors (second-/third- year students). Mentors help mentees to adapt to university life, by sharing information and organizing social/academic events.
Experimental Design Details
The randomization (match between mentors and mentees) will be conducted by the principal investigator using STATA in office, given the list of mentors and mentees.
The unit of randomization is at the individual level, and stratified at the level of study programs. Mentees are assigned to mentors from the same study program.
Was the treatment clustered?
Sample size: planned number of clusters
There will be approximately 35 mentors, and each mentor corresponds to a group of approximately 15 mentees.
Sample size: planned number of observations
The exact number of observations (mentees) depends on the sign-up rate. An educated approximation is 525.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
When examining the impact of mentors' gender, the two treatment arms are (1) students with female mentors and (2) students with male mentors. The relative sample size depends on the gender composition of recruited mentors. For instance, if there are 10 female mentors out of 35, the female-mentor treatment arm has approximately 150 students and the male-mentor treatment arm has approximately 375 students. When examining the impact of mentors' gender attitudes (a continuous measure), there's no clear differentiation of treatment arms.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Based on 2018 student data, I use Monte Carlo simulations to conduct power calculation. Assuming that 525 students are randomly assigned to 35 mentors (11 female and 24 male), with 10% significance level and 80% power, the experiment can detect a gender mentor effect equal to 11% standard deviation of standardized scores in a compulsory first-semester course. With 5% significance level and 80% power, the experiment can detect a gender mentor effect equal to 13% standard deviation of standardized scores. The gender mentor effect is defined as the impact of a female mentor on student outcomes, controlling for student baseline characteristics (e.g., gender, age, major, personality traits).
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
University of Zurich
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
OEC IRB # 2019-033