The Efficacy of Classroom Incentives: Experimental evidence from Kenya

Last registered on August 02, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

The Efficacy of Classroom Incentives: Experimental evidence from Kenya
Initial registration date
July 27, 2021

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
August 02, 2021, 12:24 PM EDT

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



Primary Investigator

Harvard University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Harvard University

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Many students in developing countries still lag behind their grade in learning. One strategy to motivate student effort and achievement that has received considerable attention is providing short-term monetary or non-monetary incentives at the individual level. In our project, we seek to study whether the provision of non-monetary incentives at the classroom level might be more effective and inclusive for pupils. Non-monetary incentives are low cost and uncontroversial with potentially large effects on learning outcomes.

External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Jain, Ronak and Brandon Tan. 2021. "The Efficacy of Classroom Incentives: Experimental evidence from Kenya." AEA RCT Registry. August 02.
Experimental Details


We intend to conduct an evaluation of a randomized controlled trial in collaboration with Bridge International Academies, where we use non-monetary incentives in the form of a ‘Star Pupil’ recognition certificate and a badge for applauding students who perform well in their tests. Specifically, we experimentally vary whether primary school students: (1) Do not receive these incentives (Control Group), (2) receive these incentives at the individual-level that is, depending on how well the student does compared to their classmates (Treatment Group 1) and (3) receive these incentives at the classroom-level, that is, depending on how well their class does overall versus other classes in the school (Treatment Group 2).

Students are be given this status at the end of each term depending on their school’s assigned treatment group. As a “Star Pupil”, a student gains the following two benefits:

1. A certificate and recognition for being a “Star Pupil” at a school assembly and at parent-teacher conferences.
2. A special badge that students can wear to school for the first two weeks of the next term.

Through this evaluation, we explore the potential for using group-level incentives for entire classes of students in place of individual level incentives in order to see whether student effort and positive peer interactions can be better incentivized.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Study hours, Test scores in Math and English, attendance, classroom behavior and punishments, and achievement gaps (dispersion of achievement in a classroom and along the gender margin).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
We will also collect data on stress levels, attitudes towards education/learning, disruptive behavior, and study-specific behaviors such as homework completion rates. We will also study peer effects via time spent studying together and helping classmates.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We divide 112 primary schools academies across Kenya associated with Bridge International Academies equally into three groups:

1. Individual-level incentives: The top 2 students in every class based on individual-level average achievement in Math and English will earn “Star Pupil” status (described below).
2. Classroom-level incentives: All students in a class who belong to the top class in each school based on classroom-level average achievement in Math and English will earn “Star Pupil” status.
3. Control: No students will gain “Star Pupil” status.

With an average class size of 15, we have over 19,000 pupils in our study sample. These include schools in both rural and urban areas.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Computer randomization.
Randomization Unit
We randomize assignment to a treatment group at the school level.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
112 schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
19,000 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
38 control schools, 37 schools in Treatment Arm 1 and 37 schools in Treatment Arm 2.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Harvard University Area IRB
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


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