Delivering remote learning using a low-tech solution: Evidence from an RCT during school closures

Last registered on August 30, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Delivering remote learning using a low-tech solution: Evidence from an RCT during school closures
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0007931
Initial registration date
August 27, 2021
Last updated
August 30, 2021, 5:23 PM EDT

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Monash University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Monash University
PI Affiliation
University of Southampton and IZA
PI Affiliation
Monash University

Additional Trial Information

Status
On going
Start date
2021-02-01
End date
2022-02-28
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
In this document, we provide the intervention details, research design, and outcome analysis plan for the impact evaluation of a basic mobile phone-based educational program in rural South-West Bangladesh. During the prolonged school closure because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most children in rural Bangladesh are missing out on formal education as they have very limited access to online and other forms of distance education. We develop a set of audio lessons using an Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) methodology – a method that allows learners to stop and react to questions and exercises through verbal response and to engage in physical and intellectual activities with a ‘special helper’, such as an adult household member, while the program is ‘on the air’. We deliver these lessons to children in grades two to four over 15 weeks via basic mobile phones using an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system as the basic mobile phone penetration rate in rural Bangladesh is significantly higher than other one-way technologies such as radio and television. In this study, we examine whether providing remote learning opportunities through IVR improves children's cognitive and noncognitive skills.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Hassan, Hashibul et al. 2021. "Delivering remote learning using a low-tech solution: Evidence from an RCT during school closures." AEA RCT Registry. August 30. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.7931-1.0
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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
In this educational intervention, we use audio lessons that are developed using the Interactive Radio Instruction (IRI) methodology and are delivered via basic feature phones. We have established two Interactive Voice Response (IVR) based toll-free numbers to deliver these interactive lessons to primary graders in the South-West region of Bangladesh. This intervention contains three modules divided into 75 lessons, each lesson with a duration of 16 to 18 minutes. These modules focus on numeracy, literacy, and a set of noncognitive skills.
Intervention Start Date
2021-06-25
Intervention End Date
2021-10-14

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
1. Children’s cognitive ability
2. Children’s noncognitive skills
3. Leadership and planning skills
4. Behavioral strengths and difficulties of the children
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
1. Children’s cognitive ability: Children's cognitive ability will be measured using a standard assessment test based on the national curriculum of Bangladesh. The test totals 100 points which are divided into literacy, numeracy, and general knowledge. The answers are in binary form.
2. Children’s noncognitive skills: We will measure self-control of the children by using the Impulsivity Scale for Children (ISC), an 8-item survey that gives domain-specific students’ impulsivity, defined as the “inability to regulate behavior, attention, and emotions in the service of valued goals” (Tsukayama et al., 2013). We will also measure grit of the participants using an 8-item grit scale (Duckworth and Quinn, 2009). This scale measures perseverance – grit – as an individual difference score. Furthermore, we will measure the extent to which participating children view intelligence as a fixed behavioral trait rather than a feature that can be improved with effort using 3-item growth mindset scale (Dweck et al., 1995, Dweck, 2013). Finally, we will measure impact of the intervention on prosocial attitude of the children. We expect that beneficiaries of a philanthropic program will show more prosociality compared to the children from control group. We will use the Empathy Questionnaire for Children and Adolescents (EmQue-CA) that is an 18-item self-report questionnaire to examine the level of empathy in three domains: affective empathy, cognitive empathy, and prosocial Motivation (Overgaauw et al., 2017).
3. Leadership and planning skill: We will use Scales for Rating the Behavioral Characteristics of Superior Students by Renzulli et al. (2002). This scale has 14 subscales. We will use leadership, communication, and planning subscales as our modules focus on these dimensions
4. Behavioral strengths and difficulties of the children: We will use the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) by Goodman (1997). This scale has 25 items divided into 5 subscales such as emotional symptoms, conduct problem, hyperactivity, peer problem, and prosocial scale. These questions will be answered by mothers.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
1. Student time spent on homework or homeschooling
2. Mother’s Time Investment in Children’s Education
3. Parenting Style and Dimension
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We implement this intervention using a multi-arm RCT design. We are interested in evaluating the effect of the intervention on the cognitive as well as the noncognitive domain of participants separately. In the T1: Standard group, we offer a literacy and numeracy module, in the T2: Extended group, we include ‘noncognitive skill’ module with literacy and numeracy and T3: pure control group.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization is done on an office computer using Stata’s random number generator.
Randomization Unit
Village-level randomization. From each village, randomly selected households are participating in this intervention.
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
90
Sample size: planned number of observations
1741
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
30 villages in each treatment 1, treatment 2 and control.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
We assume three alternative effect size of 0.20SD, 0.25SD and 0.30SD, 80 percent power, and a type-1 error rate of 5 percent.
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Monash University
IRB Approval Date
2021-03-03
IRB Approval Number
27474
Analysis Plan

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