Higher education outreach programme evaluation

Last registered on November 25, 2020


Trial Information

General Information

Higher education outreach programme evaluation
Initial registration date
November 23, 2020

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
November 25, 2020, 10:35 AM EST

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.


Primary Investigator

University of Cambridge

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
This study tests with a randomised controlled trial whether an educational programme (providing students with university-style tutorials) impacts students' general critical thinking skills, how they engage with learning and knowledge, and how they feel about being able to engage with university-style and university-level learning.

External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Ilie, Sonia. 2020. "Higher education outreach programme evaluation." AEA RCT Registry. November 25. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.6810
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


The programme evaluated here is designed and delivered by The Brilliant Club, a university access charity that runs programmes with the aim “to increase the number of pupils from underrepresented backgrounds progressing to highly-selective universities.” The Scholars Programme provides state-school pupils aged 9-17 the opportunity to experience university-style learning and receive information and guidance about applying to a highly-selective university in the UK.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
General critical thinking
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Ennis-Weir essay test (administered online). Blind marked.

The baseline measure (relevant to the primary outcome analysis) consists of (standardized) scores achieved by participating students in national age 11 assessments.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
University-related self-efficacy; cognitive strategy use; self-regulation in the learning domain.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
The secondary outcome measurse are: university-related self-efficacy, a measure of the extent to which students believe they can adapt to, and do well, in terms of university learning; self-regulation in the learning domain; and cognitive processing in relation to learning, both measured with sub-scales of the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ). All secondary outcome measures were validated in a larger sample of students previously participating in the programme (but not in the trial).

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
This study is a wait-list block design, randomised controlled trial (RCT) with individual-level assignment, testing the effectiveness of a higher education outreach and widening participation intervention. The trial uses an intention-to-treat design.

Across all participating schools, student participants are individually randomly allocated to groups (so called placements) either in the intervention group (taking part in the programme in Autumn 2019), or in the control group (taking part in the programme in Spring 2020).
Experimental Design Details
The primary, and separately secondary outcome analyses are undertaken using fixed effects modelling with robust standard errors, separately for each outcome measure.

A separate causal average complier effect analysis is undertaken using a two-stage least squares approach, also in a fixed effects framework with robust standard errors.
Randomization Method
Randomisation is stratified by gender and a measure of socio-economic disadvantage commonly used in schools in England (eligibility for Pupil Premium).
Randomization Unit
Individual student
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
264 students in 12 placements in up to 8 schools.
Sample size: planned number of observations
264 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
132 students in treatment groups; 132 students in wait-list control group
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
MDES = 0.245 (Hedge's g) - roughly equivalent to 24.5% of a standard deviation.

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials