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Climate Literacy, Attitudes, and Secondary Schooling (CLASS)
Last registered on August 31, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Climate Literacy, Attitudes, and Secondary Schooling (CLASS)
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0006375
Initial registration date
August 30, 2020
Last updated
August 31, 2020 11:37 AM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Georgia State University
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Bocconi University
PI Affiliation
University of Verona
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2020-08-31
End date
2022-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Climate change is one of the most important challenges of this century. International coordination on climate goals requires countries to have sufficient domestic support to make ambitious pledges and turn them into policies. Increasing climate literacy and people’s understanding of policies aimed at tackling climate change is crucial. Several jurisdictions are currently planning to teach climate change in schools in a systematic way. At the moment, however, very little is known about the effects of educating school-age youths about climate change and climate policy, and whether and how their knowledge is transferred to their families (parents). This project aims at filling these gaps. It leverages the unique context of Italy, the first country in the world to bring climate change to the classroom in a systematic fashion starting from the school year 2020-2021. We test for the first time the effect of educating students on climate change and climate policy by implementing a randomized controlled trial. We train teachers in randomly selected junior high and high schools with materials covering the science of climate change as well as impacts and adaptation and mitigation policies, along the lines of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The effect of being exposed to our modules will be measured with surveys to teachers and both students and their parents as well as with secondary data on students’ attendance, performance, and high school track choice. Surveys will be administered before and after the intervention, in both treated and control schools, including after the control schools receive their treatment as well, following a staggered implementation. The primary outcome variables include, among others, climate change literacy, beliefs, attitudes and understanding about climate change and climate policy, including public support for the latter, and climate-friendly behaviors, which will all also be analyzed under the lenses of two-way intergenerational transfers of knowledge. Italy offers a great opportunity to serve as a laboratory to the rest of the world. Our randomized controlled trial will provide lessons to all policymakers interested in introducing similar programs in their school system. Policy implications, however, go beyond the classroom. Our intervention will also inform policymakers and practitioners on the role of communicating climate policy, and on the potential for reverse inter-generational learning, through which pupils educate their parents and influence their behaviors.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Carattini, Stefano, Pamela Giustinelli and Marcella Veronesi. 2020. "Climate Literacy, Attitudes, and Secondary Schooling (CLASS)." AEA RCT Registry. August 31. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.6375-1.0.
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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The intervention consists of an online course for secondary school teachers on climate change, which we will offer to teachers in the treatment group in 2020 and to teachers in the control group (then treated) in 2021.
Intervention Start Date
2020-08-31
Intervention End Date
2022-12-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
All individuals: climate literacy (science and policy); beliefs; expectations; climate-friendly behaviors; feelings and emotions; engagement with climate change as a topic and as a school subject; time, risk, pro-social and pro-environmental preferences; orientations suggestions from teachers to students and parents; heterogeneity on the abovementioned outcomes along standard socioeconomic dimensions as well as baseline variables.
Teachers: decisions on what materials to teach (across civic education pillars, specific focus on climate change, specific topics within climate change); how to engage with and how much effort to invest in the new curriculum; transmission of knowledge to pupils.
Students: engagement with the school curriculum (including grades, attendance); curriculum decisions and educational and career expectations; interaction with parents and exchange of knowledge between pupils and parents; expectations on students’ outcomes.
Parents: engagement with the school curriculum; education and career expectations for children; child-parent decision making in those choices for children at relevant decision nodes (8th graders and 13th graders); interaction with children and exchange of knowledge between pupils and parents; expectations on students’ outcomes.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Primary outcomes are collected through surveys, administered among control and treatment units before and after the exposure of a group to the treatment. Survey data can be combined with administrative data at the individual or school level. The latter are publicly available.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Environmental outcomes at the province level.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Additional administrative data can be collected from the provinces and national statistical office, including on standard environmental dimensions.
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
Our project leverages the unique context of Italy, the first country in the world to introduce climate change in the primary and secondary schooling curricula starting from the upcoming school year 2020/2021. Within this context, we implement a randomized control trial to evaluate the impact of training secondary school teachers and, through these, their students about climate change and climate policy. From the school year 2020/2021, Italian students in every grade of primary and secondary education may study climate related topics as part of the new cross-disciplinary civics. To evaluate the causal effects of the introduction of climate change education in Italian secondary schools on teachers, students, and families, we implement a randomized intervention on teachers at the province level. The intervention consists of an online course for teachers on climate change, which we will offer to teachers in the treatment group. Naturally, because we cannot force all teachers randomly assigned to treatment to take the course, we will use an imperfect-compliance framework for the analysis. The decision to be exposed to the treatment is an important part of the study in its own right. Incidentally, imperfect compliance of treatment to assignment may also occur because control units receive the treatment. While we cannot guarantee for sure that no control teacher gets access to the online course offered to teachers assigned to treatment, our design includes strategies to avoid as much as possible such contamination, which are described below. Our project comprises five stages. In the first stage, baseline measures are collected, including through a survey of teachers, pupils, and parents. Teachers in treatment provinces are recruited for the intervention. The goal of the baseline is to collect pre-treatment information on teachers’: socio-demographics; education and training; teaching experience and career; past and planned teaching of civics and/or environmental and climate topics; knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, habits, and behaviors related to climate issues. This stage is expected to take place during the summer of 2020. Teachers are informed about the survey and the course – and families will be informed about the survey – by the school principals, who in turn are alerted about the initiative by the provincial school boards. Additional emails will be sent directly from the University of Verona to the schools’ principals. Communications with local school boards, principals and, through the latter, with teachers and families are being managed separately for treatment and control groups. Participants in the treatment and control groups are provided different survey links, course links, and course passwords to register for the course. Moreover, detailed information about the school and location of each participant will be collected systematically in each survey and, for teachers, also at the course registration. This will enable us to check for potential contaminations. To make sure that student participation is contingent on parental approval (consent), we ask parents to forward the survey link to their children after taking the survey themselves. In the second stage, teachers in treatment provinces are treated. That is, teachers assigned to treatment status will have the opportunity to take a free online course on climate change. The course lasts about 10 hours and consists of video lectures, slides, interactive material and quizzes, covering topics within three broad themes: (i) The Science of Climate Change; (ii) The Impact of Climate Change; and (iii) Being Part of the Solution. Those teachers who complete the course by watching all video lectures will receive an official attendance certificate, awarded by the University of Verona. This stage is expected to take place during the fall of 2020. In the third stage, ex-post values are collected in both treatment and control groups, for teachers, pupils, and parents. This stage is expected to take place during the spring of 2020. In the fourth stage, control and treatment switch roles. Schools in provinces initially assigned to the treatment group are now subject to the intervention, while schools in provinces initially assigned to the treatment group represent an already-treated control group. This stage is expected to take place during the late spring of 2021. In the fifth stage, ex-post values are collected for both treatment arms, for teachers, pupils, and parents. This stage is expected to take place during the spring of 2022. Hence, our staggered implementation allows us to leverage two experiments with the same intervention as well as to study medium-run outcomes, almost two years after the intervention was first implemented.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
To minimize treatment spillovers, we randomize the treatment at the province level. Randomization of provinces and their corresponding schools (with their corresponding teachers, pupils, and parents) to treatment or control, with staggered implementation leading the control group to be eventually treated as well.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
As many as there are provincial directors of education, i.e. 86 (note that some directors may be in charge of up to three provinces, although most of them only supervise one province, and among those supervising more than one province most supervise two provinces).
Sample size: planned number of observations
Publicly available administrative data cover the universe of Italian schools, which includes about 14’000 schools. Survey data depend crucially on the response rate. We expect treated teachers to participate in the survey in the order of thousands and to receive the treatment in the same range. We expect pupils to participate in the survey in the order of thousands. We expect parents to participate in the survey in the order of thousands.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
See above.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Bocconi University
IRB Approval Date
2020-08-25
IRB Approval Number
FA000137