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Can Peer Mentoring Improve Online Teaching? An RCT During the Corona Pandemic
Last registered on May 19, 2020


Trial Information
General Information
Can Peer Mentoring Improve Online Teaching? An RCT During the Corona Pandemic
Initial registration date
May 19, 2020
Last updated
May 19, 2020 2:02 PM EDT
Primary Investigator
University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
PI Affiliation
University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
Additional Trial Information
On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
We study a cohort of students at the School of Business, Economics, and Society at a German university in their second semester which is entirely held online due to the COVID-pandemic. We design and implement a program that provides students with a student advisor from a more advanced semester. The mentors and mentees meet one-on-one online and work on a plan for the semester, discuss issues in working from home or studying generally, and the mentors provide suggestions on how to study effectively. To determine whether and how students respond to the intervention, we measure the mentees' performance in exams.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Hardt, David, Markus Nagler and Johannes Rincke. 2020. "Can Peer Mentoring Improve Online Teaching? An RCT During the Corona Pandemic." AEA RCT Registry. May 19. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5868-1.0.
Experimental Details
The study program Economics and Business Studies at the university where the trial is going to be implemented requires students to collect 180 credit points to graduate. Students are expected to graduate after three years (six semesters). The study plan assigns courses worth 30 credit points to each semester. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in the summer term 2020 all courses of the School of Business, Economics, and Society will be conducted in online format. The trial focuses on the second semester consisting of six compulsory courses. We recruited 15 advisors who are themselves students in the Economics and Business Studies program at the School of Business, Economics, and Society. We hired students as advisors who successfully completed the first year of studies and during the current semester are enrolled in the fourth semester of the program.

In the first week of the semester, students in the treatment group are informed via email about the launch of a new mentoring program designed specifically for students in the second semester of the study program. They are invited to register for the program through a webpage. The mentoring program focuses on self-organization and is supposed to make mentees aware of potential problems and pitfalls of studying online. We designed the mentoring program to involve five one-on-one online meetings between advisors and mentees. Each meeting is supposed to last between 30 and 45 minutes. For each of the meetings, we provide advisors with structured information on how to conduct the session. In the control group, there is no mentoring. However, the School of Business, Economics, and Society provides general information on the topics that we focus on in the mentoring for all students through its website. This includes advice on how to work from home and general information on all issues regarding the online implementation of courses.

After the end of the exam period (preliminarily scheduled for July and August 2020), we will collect individual data on exam performance to contruct our outcomes.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
credit points earned in the second term
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
See Pre-Analysis Plan.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
See Pre-Analysis Plan.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
See Pre-Analysis Plan.
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Half of the students in the second term are invited to take part in the mentoring program. For details on the program, see entry "Intervention".
Experimental Design Details
See Pre-Analysis Plan.
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Individual student
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
694 students
Sample size: planned number of observations
694 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
347 students
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
See Pre-Analysis Plan
IRB Name
Ethics Commission of the School of Business, Economics and Society, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)