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Does Nudging Students Decrease Learning Deficits and Dropouts During and After a Pandemic? Experimental Evidence from Covid-19 Responses in Brazil
Last registered on September 07, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Does Nudging Students Decrease Learning Deficits and Dropouts During and After a Pandemic? Experimental Evidence from Covid-19 Responses in Brazil
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0005986
Initial registration date
June 09, 2020
Last updated
September 07, 2020 10:52 AM EDT
Location(s)
Region
Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Zurich
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Zurich
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2020-06-09
End date
2020-09-14
Secondary IDs
Abstract
The covid-19 pandemic has forced 1.5 billion schoolchildren in 160 countries to stay at home while schools were shut down on sanitary grounds. While several distance learning tools have been put in place in developing countries, a variety of factors raise critical concerns about learning deficits and school dropouts when schools are back, particularly amongst the most vulnerable students. This paper investigates whether sending reminders and encouragement messages to high-school students in Brazil during the pandemic increases attendance and assignment completion when it comes to distance learning, and decreases grade repetition and dropout rates in the aftermath.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Christen, Julien and Guilherme Lichand. 2020. "Does Nudging Students Decrease Learning Deficits and Dropouts During and After a Pandemic? Experimental Evidence from Covid-19 Responses in Brazil." AEA RCT Registry. September 07. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5986-2.1.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The intervention has been designed by Instituto Sonho Grande and the Goiás State Secretariat of Education, with the help of Movva (the implementing partner that powers Eduq+). It will take place during the months of June and July/2020, when public high schools will be randomly assigned to have their students receive two messages per week from Eduq+ (an educational nudgebot). 57 schools have been assigned to the treatment group, and 30 to the control group (which receives no intervention). In case the student does not own a phone, messages will be sent to the mobile phone of his/her primary caregiver. The intervention is scheduled to be rolled out on June 9th.
Intervention Start Date
2020-06-09
Intervention End Date
2020-07-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
We will document the effects of the treatments on the following categories of outcomes for students enrolled in high school (age 15 to 18):
A. Short-term outcomes: probability of logging into the online platform or picking up the material in school, probability of handed in of assignments, as measured by administrative records;
B. Long-term outcomes: attendance, grades, probability of grade repetition and probability of dropout, as measured by administrative records.
Since some students will receive messages on their own mobile phones, while for others it is their caregivers who will be nudged by Eduq+, we will estimate treatment effects within those two subgroups. Power calculations indicate that we could detect treatment effects of at least 1 and 0.9 percentage point for these two subsamples, respectively.
Since there are siblings in the data, we will remove from the main analysis cases when not all siblings are assigned to the same treatment conditions. Depending on how many siblings there are, we also plan to estimate within-family's externalities of the nudges, taking advantage of that sub-sample.
For participants with online access, we hope to get access to daily data, which would allow us to also estimate high-frequency treatment effects through event studies.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The intervention will be evaluated through a randomised control trial with 87 schools in the state of Goiás. Randomization is stratified by gender, grade and phone ownership. 57 schools have been assigned to the treatment group, while 30 have been assigned to control. Students in the treatment group will receive nudges (reminders and encouragement messages), sent twice a week, directly on their mobile phones via text messages (SMS). In case the student does not own a phone, messages will be sent to the mobile phone of his/her primary caregiver. The treatment group consists of 12,056 students, while the control group consists of 6,200 students. Within the sample of 12,056 students assigned to receive nudges, less than half (5,188) own their own mobile phone and will receive messages directly. It is also important to note that not all students in the sample have access to the internet and that those who do not can pick up the printed class material once every week and hand in assignments the following week. For the purpose of this study however, we will be able to measure their outcomes in different ways. In addition, students among the treatment group have been further randomised, in groups of 1,507 students, to receive one of eight variations in message content.
At the end of July, we will be able estimate treatment effects on access to the online platform, and assignment completion, from administrative data provided by the Secretariat. Concretely, we have requested weekly student-level data on log in activity – or face-to-face pick-up of class materials – as well as assignment completion (again, online or offline). For those with online access, we hope to get access to daily data, which would allow us to also estimate high-frequency treatment effects through event studies. Last, after face-to-face classes resume, we will have access to administrative records on student-level attendance, grades, grade repetition and enrollment status.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
School-level randomization for treatment vs. control assignment, stratified by gender, grade and phone ownership
Student-level randomization within treatment group for different variations of messages
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
87 schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
18256
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Control: 30 schools - 6,200 students
Treatment: 57 schools - 12,056 students
Within treatment: 8 groups of 1,507 students
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
In the case of the full sample, we could detect treatment effects of nudges of at least 0.8 percentage points. Since some students will receive messages on their own mobile phones, while for others it is their caregivers who will be nudged by Eduq+, we will estimate treatment effects within those two subgroups. Power calculations indicate that we could detect treatment effects of at least 1 and 0.9 percentage point for these two subsamples, respectively.
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Human Subjects Committee of the Faculty of Economics, Business Administration, and Information Technology
IRB Approval Date
2020-06-10
IRB Approval Number
OEC IRB # 2020-033
Analysis Plan
Analysis Plan Documents
Does Nudging Students Decrease Learning Deficits and Dropouts During and After a Pandemic? Experimental Evidence from Covid-19 Responses in Brazil

MD5: d965ff6da3489ade7056b180bde0e697

SHA1: 2ce43a9d46db28053a5cc97fc164cc441acb2b1a

Uploaded At: June 09, 2020

Pre-Analysis Plan update 01/09/2020

MD5: eefc9d29d1169c85b11eadbb84aecbe3

SHA1: 181d0dd83ea1a9742b5c29794b0fdde5cb044e75

Uploaded At: September 01, 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