The effect of setting a joint, self-chosen SMART-Goal on project success - an experiment with student learning groups

Last registered on October 08, 2021


Trial Information

General Information

The effect of setting a joint, self-chosen SMART-Goal on project success - an experiment with student learning groups
Initial registration date
October 08, 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
October 08, 2021, 2:43 PM EDT

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



Primary Investigator

Universit├Ąt Paderborn

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Universit├Ąt Paderborn

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Do students in learning groups perform better when they are asked to define a SMART goal for collaboration? With agile work on the rise, team composition increasingly changees such that people are more and more frequently expected to work with others they hardly knew before. While having the broad aim of delivering a successful project, there are often no more concrete goals defined when the team is formed. Does defining a self-chosen, jointly agreed SMART goal enhance project success? We investigate this question by conducting a field experiment in a university course and comparing the exam results between a control group without and a treatment group with self set goals.

External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Horst, Ingolf and Wendelin Schnedler. 2021. "The effect of setting a joint, self-chosen SMART-Goal on project success - an experiment with student learning groups." AEA RCT Registry. October 08.
Experimental Details


In one condition, randomly assigned dyadic learning pairs in tutorial groups are asked to set a joint goal. To the other, no such task is given.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Points reached in the written examination at the end of the course.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The exam will take place on the 11th of December, 2021

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
As part of a first semester course, students have the opportunity to participate in a learning partner program. In the process, another participating person is randomly suggested to them as a potential partner. Through this framework, the rough goal of successfully completing the course together is already loosely predetermined. Partners are then asked to find a corner of the room to get to know each other. For this purpose, they are offered questions that they can answer to each other. These are translated from "The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings (Aron, 1997)", chosen with the intention of letting a conversation emerge and to create closeness. As intervention, some of the students are given the task of setting a common goal for the collaboration. Specification of the goal is up to the pairs themselves. The success of the intervention is finally measured by the performance in the final exam.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
The two groups "goal-setting" and "no-goal-setting" are distributed across the different days of the first week of tutorials such that randomization regarding day of the week, time of the day and tutor is ensured as far as possible.
Randomization Unit
tutorial group
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
10-12 tutorial groups
Sample size: planned number of observations
300-400 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
5-6 tutorial groups no goal setting
5-6 tutorial groups goal setting
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

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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