Defaults in Education

Last registered on December 27, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Defaults in Education
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0008739
Initial registration date
December 23, 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 27, 2021, 11:01 PM EST

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

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Nuremberg Institute of Technology

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Erfurt
PI Affiliation
Nuremberg Institute of Technology

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
2016-10-01
End date
2019-09-30
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
In two field experiments, we find standard default effects in higher education: changing the exam sign-up procedure from opt-in to opt-out increases the proximal outcome exam sign-up. Downstream, exam participation increases when automatic sign-up applies to a single exam rather than many exams, yet on average neither intervention yields effects on exam passing. Heterogeneities are large. Responsive students benefit, and convert the increased sign-ups into passed exams. For non-responsive students, the increased sign-ups result in failed exams due to no-shows. Defaults can thus move even outcomes which require substantial post-intervention effort, but policy-makers need to carefully consider whom to target.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Behlen, Lars, Oliver Himmler and Robert Jäckle. 2021. "Defaults in Education." AEA RCT Registry. December 27. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8739
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Intervention Start Date
2016-10-01
Intervention End Date
2019-09-30

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Exam registration, actual participation, passed/failed exams. Number of credit points (ECTS), grades and grade point average as gathered and submitted by the student office.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Exp I:
Students were randomized into two exam sign-up regimes: opt-in (the standard procedure) and opt-out (automatic sign-up, i.e. the treatment group).
Students in the treatment group were automatically signed-up for all six exams that the university recommends in the study plan for the first semester. They could de-register from the exams they were signed up for. In the control group students had to actively sign up for exams themselves (opt-in), which is the standard procedure in German higher education.

Exp II:
Students were again randomized into two exam sign-up regimes: opt-in (the standard procedure) and opt-out (automatic sign-up, i.e. the treatment group). Students in the treatment group were automatically signed up for the statistics exam. As in the first experiment, students in the opt-out group could de-register from the statistics exam, and students in the control group (opt-in) had to actively sign up if they wanted to take statistics.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization was done in an office using a computer, carried out using stratification and balancing.
Randomization Unit
Individual
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
-
Sample size: planned number of observations
Exp I: N=349 Exp II: N= 428, (361 BuA plus 67 IB)
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Exp I: control: 174, treatment: 175


Exp II: control: 180 BuA plus 33 IB, treatment: 181 BuA plus 34 IB
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Ethics Board University of Göttingen
IRB Approval Date
2017-09-17
IRB Approval Number
N/A

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
September 30, 2019, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
September 30, 2019, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
No
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
Exp I: 349
Exp II: 428 (361 BuA plus 67 IB)
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

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Program Files

Program Files
No
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials