Evaluating Learning Interactions (ELI)

Last registered on April 04, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

Evaluating Learning Interactions (ELI)
Initial registration date
December 20, 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
December 23, 2021, 10:58 AM EST

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

Last updated
April 04, 2023, 3:05 PM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.


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Primary Investigator

The University of Chicago

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
The University of Chicago
PI Affiliation
The University of Chicago

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Evaluating Learning Interactions (ELI) is an RCT intended to help low-income parents improve the literacy skills and curiosity of their 3-5 year-old children. One of two treatments encourages parents to engage in traditional academic interactions with their child and the second encourages curiosity-based interactions. In academic interactions parents engage their children in activities intended to convey specific information such as new vocabulary words and letter sounds or recognition. In curiosity-based interactions parents engage in open-ended conversation to promote curiosity. The outcomes of this RCT are measures of children’s literacy skills and curiosity. Our hypothesis is that motivating curiosity-based parent-child interactions will increase children’s literacy skills, curiosity, and enthusiasm for learning more than motivating academic interactions but both treatments will increase literacy skills more than the control group. ELI is a six-month text-based program for low-income families.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Kalil, Ariel, Susan Mayer and Michelle Park Michelini. 2023. "Evaluating Learning Interactions (ELI)." AEA RCT Registry. April 04. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8652-2.1
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


The ELI intervention will send 3–4 text messages per week to parents in two treatment groups and one control group. One treatment will send parents messages promoting unconstrained learning interactions, such as guides to open-ended conversation and play that parents can do with their children. The second treatment will send parents messages promoting constrained learning interactions, such as direct instruction on literacy skills where the goal is a correct response from children. Control messages will be unrelated to promoting children's skill development. We focus only on literacy skills so that we can concentrate messaging on only one skill to maximize impact and minimize the length of the assessments. Each treatment will be delivered over six months by text messages in Spanish and English.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
We will assess the change in children’s literacy skills and their change in curiosity about future learning. Reliable administrative data for preschool-aged children’s skill development does not exist, and this study will include some children who are not enrolled in formal preschool; therefore, we will have to assess children’s skills as part of ELI. Our research team has extensive experience conducting child skill assessments.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
At baseline and follow-up we will briefly survey parents on demographic characteristics, attitudes toward learning interactions at home with their child, and investments in their child’s school readiness. In the survey at the end, we will ask for user feedback on their experience with the ELI messaging program. We will also look at differences in the rate of parent feedback to periodic engagement prompts.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We will recruit low-income families with preschool-aged children in collaboration with our implementation partners. All recruited parents will be offered half of their incentive payment upon enrollment in ELI and the other half upon completion of the post-intervention parent survey and child assessments. Consent will be actively obtained from participants and contact information and demographic data will be collected upon enrollment. Enrolled parents will be randomized into one of the two treatment groups or the control group. Baseline parent surveys and child assessments of literacy and curiosity will be administered just prior to the start of the intervention. As part of the 6-month intervention, parents will receive 3-4 text messages per week in their native language of English or Spanish. Periodically parents will be asked to text back a response indicating they are engaged with the ELI program. At the end of the intervention, endline parent surveys and child assessments will be administered.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Consented and enrolled parents will be randomized using a computer program i.e. Stata.
Randomization Unit
Randomization will be at the family level.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
750 families
Sample size: planned number of observations
750 families
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
250 families in treatment promoting unconstrained learning interactions; 250 families in treatment promoting constrained learning interactions; 250 families in control group
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
We set power to 80% and the significance level to p=.05. Under these assumptions the standardized minimum detectable effect size (MDSE) is 0.25 on literacy skills (mean difference of 3.75 with a SD of 15 on PPVT). Assuming the measure of curiosity has 8 chances to choose a novel or familiar item, the MDSE is 0.25 (mean difference of 0.33 with a SD of 1.33 given a normal distribution from 0 to 8). Furthermore, assuming the measures of curiosity contain measurement error with a reliability coefficient R of 0.75, the calculation of the attenuated effect size from Phillips and Jiang (2016) gives a MDSE of around 0.29.

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
The University of Chicago Social and Behavioral Sciences
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

Analysis Plan Documents

ELI PAP 2023

MD5: 1fb8df1df4dc60cba128a2b55f15a6ea

SHA1: d98c11626fb3f5ebda2d6c2a4b7715b4e6948d94

Uploaded At: April 04, 2023