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Closing Gaps in Higher Education Trajectories: The Effect of Targeted Information and Mentorship
Last registered on April 14, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Closing Gaps in Higher Education Trajectories: The Effect of Targeted Information and Mentorship
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0007303
Initial registration date
April 14, 2021
Last updated
April 14, 2021 11:07 AM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
Centre for Economics Performance (LSE), VATT Institute for Economic Research
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
Fundación Luksic
PI Affiliation
Harvard Graduate School of Education
Additional Trial Information
Status
In development
Start date
2021-04-14
End date
2022-09-30
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Using a randomized controlled trial (RCT), this project aims to assess whether the provision of targeted information and mentoring to students attending vocational high schools affect the quantity and type of post-secondary studies they pursue and their higher education aspirations. The RCT randomly assign 80 high schools to the control group, 80 high schools to an information-only treatment group, and 80 high schools to a combination of information and mentoring treatment group. The mentoring treatment is assigned only to a few students per class according to a measure of network centrality, and the design of the intervention includes features that allow us to study the spillovers of the mentoring program on the social network of treated individuals. With this last part of the experiment, we aim to understand to which extent social spillovers could be used to design more efficient and effective interventions that allow students to make informed decisions about their post-secondary education trajectories.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Barrios Fernández, Andrés, Josefina Eluchanz Errázuriz and Fernanda Ramirez Espinoza. 2021. "Closing Gaps in Higher Education Trajectories: The Effect of Targeted Information and Mentorship." AEA RCT Registry. April 14. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.7303-1.0.
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The RCT will randomly assign 80 high schools to the control group, 80 high schools to an information-only treatment group, and 80 high schools to a combination of information and mentoring treatment group. All interventions are focused on high school senior students. All the students enrolled in treated schools will receive an information package in their homes. The package will provide information on three central aspects:

(1) Funding opportunities.
(2) Important variables to consider when choosing higher education programs.
(3) Steps they need to follow to apply for funding and to higher education.

On top of the information package, a subset of students attending high schools allocated to the second treatment group will receive additional support from mentors. Mentors will contact the selected group of students 9 times between August and December to discuss with them their plans after completing high school. Apart from providing information about higher education opportunities, mentors would be available to answer any questions that students may have about different aspects of higher education (e.g., applications, funding and admissions requirements, important deadlines, variables to consider when deciding whether to enroll and where to enroll in higher education, etc). All the information provided by mentors will come from official sources.

Finally, students in the control group will receive neither the information package nor the mentorship program.
Intervention Start Date
2021-08-02
Intervention End Date
2022-01-31
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
1. Understanding of the financial aid system (see next point for additional details).
2. Understanding of the higher education system (see next point for additional details).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
1. Understanding of the financial aid system: requisites, available funding, application procedures.
2. Understanding of the higher education system:
2.1 Application procedures: requisites to apply to different types of institutions.
2.2 Average labor market outcomes: employment, wages.
2.3 Heterogeneity in the system: graduation rates, over-duration, employment, earnings.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
I. Postsecondary education trajectories:
1. Applies to funding for higher education.
2. Applies to higher education.
3. Enrolls in higher education.
4. Characteristics of the institutions and programs in which they enroll: retention rates, over-duration, accreditation, expected earnings, expected employability.

II. Higher Education Aspirations
1. Desire of continuing studying after high school graduation.
2. Self-efficacy beliefs
3. Characteristics of the institutions and programs in which they wish to enroll: retention rates, over-duration, accreditation, expected earnings, expected employability.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
In addition to study differences in these outcomes, we plan to study heterogeneity along two important dimensions:
- Both treatments: baseline knowledge of the system, academic potential, and students' gender.
- Mentorship treatment: the size of the spillovers depending on the social distance to treated individuals.
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The RCT contemplates randomly assigning 80 high schools to the control group, 80 high schools to an information-only treatment group, and 80 high schools to a combination of information and mentoring treatment group. The treatments aim to affect the understanding that senior high school students have of their higher education opportunities and as a consequence their post-secondary education trajectories. Randomization will be done in the office by a computer. Schools in the control group will not be treated. Senior students enrolled in schools in any of the treated groups will receive an information package. In addition, 10% of the students in the second treatment group will receive on top of the information package a mentorship program. These students will be selected according to a measure of network centrality and academic potential. The criteria used to assign students to the mentorship program will depend on observables. The effects of the mentorship program will be measured on both mentored students, but also on their classmates.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization done in the office by a computer.
Randomization Unit
School
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
240 schools.
Sample size: planned number of observations
24,000 pupils.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
- Control: 80 schools.
- Information-only treatment: 80 schools (personalized information send to all senior students).
- Information and mentoring program: 80 schools (personalized information send to all senior students and mentorship program allocated to highly connected individuals within each class).
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Unfortunately, we do not have complete information to make accurate power calculations for our outcomes measuring how well students understand their funding and higher education opportunities at the moment. The best we can do is to rely on figures reported by previous studies in Chile. We base the following power analyses on the results of Hastings et al (2016). The survey used in this paper was applied to students registered for the university admission exam (PSU) who accepted an email invitation to answer it. Our study focuses on schools in which an important share of the students do not even register for the PSU. Even those who take the PSU perform well below those in the sample of Hastings et al (2016). For instance, while the average score of students in Hastings et al (2016) was 539, the average performance of students from schools in our sample in 2018 was 439 (this is a difference of approximately 1SD). Since we focus on students from particularly disadvantaged settings, their knowledge of the system is likely to be lower than the one in Hastings et al (2016). Having these caveats in mind, we can assume an error in expected earnings ((Expected − Benchmark)/Benchmark) of between 0.43 to 0.50. Assuming an intercluster correlation of 0.15, these figures imply we would be able to identify effects above 0.17 at a significance level of 5% and with a power of 80%. When studying the effect of the mentorship program only on those receiving that treatment (i.e., around 10% of a cohort), then the minimum detectable effect increases to 0.22. Below, a list of binary outcomes that we will study, their means in previous cohorts of schools in our sample, and the minimum detectable effect in percentage points (power 80%, significance 95%). All the outcomes are measured at the individual level, and since they are reported in administrative records we can use previous cohorts to make very precise power calculations. A. Information-only intervention: (1) Application to funding: 64% (mean), 6 pp (MDE). (2) Registration in university admission exam: 87% (mean), 5 pp (MDE). (3) Enrollment in higher education: 43% (mean), 5.4 pp (MDE). (4) Enrollment in university: 12% (mean), 3.4 pp (MDE) B. Information + mentorship on treated students (individuals receiving the mentorship treatment and their controls): (1) Application to funding: 64% (mean), 8.7 pp (MDE). (2) Registration in university admission exam: 87% (mean), 6.2 pp (MDE). (3) Enrollment in higher education: 43% (mean), 8.7 pp (MDE). (4) Enrollment in university: 12% (mean), 5.9 pp (MDE) (*) Our ability to detect effects on the connections of students receiving the mentorship treatment depends on the number of close connections included in the analyses. When focusing only on the closest connection the MDE is the same described in B. While we include more individuals, the MDE starts to approach the ones described in A.
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Aalto University Research Ethical Comittee
IRB Approval Date
2021-04-12
IRB Approval Number
N/A
Analysis Plan

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