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How messages of encouragement influence students’ grades on exams?
Last registered on January 07, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
How messages of encouragement influence students’ grades on exams?
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0005155
Initial registration date
December 08, 2019
Last updated
January 07, 2020 11:42 AM EST
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Research Center for Educational and Network Studies, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Centre for Social Sciences; TÁRKI Social Research Institute, Budapest
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Szeged
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2019-12-09
End date
2020-01-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
We will conduct a large-scale randomized field experiment at the University of Szeged that takes the form of a message of encouragement. All students at the university will receive before their exam. We will randomize when students receive the message. A randomly selected half of all students will receive the message of encouragement before their first exam, and will not receive it before their second exam. The other random half of the sample will be treated before their second exam, and will not be treated before their first exam. By comparing students who receive the message of encouragement with those who do not, we will investigate how the message of encouragement influences students’ grades on the exam. We will explore treatment heterogeneity and test for the particular mechanism through which the potential effect might operate. Our research has particular policy relevance in terms of its search for low-cost, easily scalable interventions that can prevent students from dropping out.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Keller, Tamas and Péter Szakál. 2020. "How messages of encouragement influence students’ grades on exams?." AEA RCT Registry. January 07. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5155-1.1.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
Our intervention takes the form of a message of encouragement that students will receive before their exam. The student will receive the message of encouragement via two channels: e-mail and text message on their mobile device.
Intervention Start Date
2019-12-09
Intervention End Date
2020-01-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
The primary outcome variable is students’ grades on the exam, which are integers between 1 and 5.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The primary outcome variable is students’ grades on the exam, which are integers between 1 and 5. In the Hungarian system, grade 1 means fail; other grades are equivalent to passing the exam.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
In addition to the primary outcome variable, we pre-register secondary outcome variables which will comprise 1 if a student fails the exam (grade 1) and 0 if the student receives any other grades.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We have designed a crossover randomized field experiment (Brown 1980) in which students function as their own control since we have repeated measurements (first and second exam) about the same students.
Experimental Design Details
We have designed a crossover randomized field experiment (Brown 1980) in which students function as their own control since we have repeated measurements (first and second exam) about the same students. All students from the target population will receive the treatment for ethical reasons. We will randomize, however, the time when students receive the treatment. Based on the value of a random number, we will create two groups. Group A will receive the treatment before their first exam, and will not receive the treatment before their second exam. Group B will receive the treatment before their second exam, but not before their first exam. Students who receive the treatment (irrespective of whether they receive it before the first or the second exam) will be referred to as the treatment group. Students who do not receive the treatment (irrespective of when) will be referred to as the control group.
Randomization Method
We will randomize students at the student level. We will employ pair-matched randomization (Imai, King, and Nall 2009). We will first sort the data file according to the following baseline variables: the study program on which the student is enrolled, the level of training, the type of training, the financial form of training, students’ gender, and students’ ability. In the sorted data file, we will identify the most similar pairs of students. We will randomly assign students from the same pair to Group A or Group B based on the value of a randomly generated number.
Randomization Unit
student
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
No clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
We expect a sample size of at least 10,000 students in the analytical sample
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
We have 16,992 different students at the university. Half of them will be treated before the first exam. The other half will be treated before the second exam.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
We expect a sample size of at least 10,000 students in the analytical sample. The power calculation obtained with the Optimal Design program yields an effect size of 0.05 at that sample size. Thus, our sample size is large enough to yield a small effect.
Supporting Documents and Materials

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Request Information
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Center for Social Sciences, Budapest
IRB Approval Date
2019-12-05
IRB Approval Number
Ethical Approval Decision_0512/2019
Analysis Plan
Analysis Plan Documents
szte_pap_x0v_rew.docx

MD5: 1b546aa2e1a818a68d7187056030a6bd

SHA1: 0f6a764371135cb7ae39e978e66bf37749507c8c

Uploaded At: January 07, 2020

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, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)
REPORTS & OTHER MATERIALS