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Microcredentials and the role of their verifiability in education
Last registered on November 12, 2020

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Microcredentials and the role of their verifiability in education
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0006729
Initial registration date
November 10, 2020
Last updated
November 12, 2020 8:18 AM EST
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2019-06-03
End date
2022-06-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
This project explores the role of the verifiability of microcredentials in higher education.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Dobrescu, Loretti and Alberto Motta. 2020. "Microcredentials and the role of their verifiability in education." AEA RCT Registry. November 12. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.6729-1.0.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
We estimate the effect of offering students additional skill-signalling opportunities in a large first year university course via microcredentials. 645 students who take the course are randomly assigned to 3 groups: one control and two treatments. All students, including the control, received the same type of information about their absolute and relative course performance. On top of this, those in the Non-Verifiable Treatment had access to a list of milestones based on various measures of course progression, real time feedback on their progress towards these goals, and the possibility to claim these microcredentials upon completing a milestone. Upon claiming a microcredential, the Verifiable Treatment students also had the opportunity to blockchain it, making it instantly verifiable against the awarding organization and easily sharable on social media.
The goal of this project is to explore whether microcredentials, verifiable or not, have an effect on educational attainment. We are additionally investigating the mechanism behind these effects.
Intervention Start Date
2019-06-03
Intervention End Date
2019-08-23
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
1. Differences in academic performance between students with verifiable microcredentials compared to non-verifiable credentials and no credentials at all.
2. Differences in effort between students with verifiable microcredentials compared to non-verifiable credentials and no credentials at all.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
• There are 3 experimental groups: one control and 2 treatments.
• In all groups, including control, students receive the same type of information about their absolute and relative course performance in an online assignment.
• In treatment 1 ("Non-Verifiable Treatment"), the assignment will also provide a list of milestones based on various measures of assignment performance, real time feedback on their progress towards these goals, and the possibility to claim microcredentials upon completing a milestone.
• In treatment 2 ("Verifiable Treatment"), students have an additional opportunity (compared to treatment 1 students) to blockchain the microcredentials they claim, making them instantly verifiable against the awarding organization and easily sharable on social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter).
• Students only interact within their group. Groups are not connected.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization will be carried out by a computer.
Randomization Unit
Each student will be randomly assigned to a group (randomization unit = student).
Was the treatment clustered?
No
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
NA
Sample size: planned number of observations
The analysis involving main outcomes (1) is based on 645 observations. Depending on the effort indicator mentioned in main outcomes (2), we have between 62 and 645 observations.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
We have 3 groups:
• Control group: 220 students
• Treatment group 1 (“Non-Verifiable Treatment”): 195 students
• Treatment group 2 (“Verifiable Treatment”): 230 students
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Human Ethics Research Committee at University of New South Wales
IRB Approval Date
2019-05-14
IRB Approval Number
HC190365