Can innovation be taught in schools? Experimental evidence from India

Last registered on January 22, 2024


Trial Information

General Information

Can innovation be taught in schools? Experimental evidence from India
Initial registration date
August 08, 2022

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 08, 2022, 12:30 PM EDT

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

Last updated
January 22, 2024, 9:33 PM EST

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


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Primary Investigator

Columbia University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Non-cognitive skills like innovation and teamwork have gained importance in the education policies of many countries today. While innovation is considered a central driver of a country’s economic growth, teamwork skills help create a globally competitive workforce. However, the evidence on how these skills can be taught in schools is scarce.

I will be conducting a randomized evaluation of a program in India called “Think and Make” (TM) which works with eighth-grade students to develop these skills. Students participating in the TM program work in teams to identify local community problems in the health, agriculture, and education sectors, develop prototypes of their ideas, and build potential solutions. I will be borrowing measures from management and psychology literature to gauge growth in these skills.

The schools where this program will be conducted were established as part of an aggressive affirmative action program in India. The student body in these schools belongs to the former untouchable castes, which are collectively classified as scheduled castes (SCs), and socially and economically marginalized indigenous ethnic groups that are classified as scheduled tribes (STs). These students are on average two years behind in education outcomes and as adults earn 25 percentage points less income in comparison to advantaged groups mainly due to caste-based discrimination and persisting intergenerational inequalities.

TM program can help become these students self-employed which could help generate wealth at the grassroots for their communities. This study can help inform policymakers on education interventions that can enable students from disadvantaged backgrounds to have a more empowered career path. Finally, this study can push the frontiers of economics and education literature by evaluating the effectiveness of pedagogy that develops non-cognitive skills, for which the evidence has been increasingly pointing out the causal impact on individuals’ life and economic outcomes.

External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Gupta, Saloni. 2024. "Can innovation be taught in schools? Experimental evidence from India." AEA RCT Registry. January 22.
Experimental Details


Eighty schools (with roughly 80 students in Grade 8 each) are pairwise randomly assigned to either treatment or control group. Grade 8 students in both treatment and control schools are divided into teams of four. Treatment students undergo a weekly 90 minutes curriculum during school where they build skills for identifying problems by going to their communities, generating ideas, designing and building prototypes, and building products for two product cycles during the academic year.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Innovation Scale Score, Willingness to Fund, Funding Raised, Community Feedback, Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Skills
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Team Outcomes:
Innovation Scale- constructed with the help of interviews and surveys of innovators.
Willingness to Fund - the amount of funding qualified evaluators are willing to provide to the products developed by students.
Funding Raised - 2 shortlisted teams from each school participate in a Shark Tank-style competition and raise funds for their products by pitching to business entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.
Community Feedback - Community gives feedback on a random sample of products developed by both winning treatment and control teams
Individual Outcomes:
Cognitive Skills - Raven's Cognitive Matrices Test
Math and Science Outcomes - outcomes on grade 7 state curriculum
Big 5 Personality Traits - impact on openness, conscientiousness, and extraversion due to working in teams for solving social problems.
Innovators DNA - self-reported questionnaire appropriate for adolescents on five discovery skills as highlighted by a study on innovators by Dyer et. al (2019)
Risk-Taking - Using a computerized version of the game highlighted in Gneezy and Potters (1997)
Lemonade Test - Measure of experimentation and tinkering as developed by (Ederer and Manso, 2008)
Social Skills - Using the Reading The Mind in the Eyes Test (Vellante et. al, 2013)
Social Network - change in n closest friends from baseline to endline

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Impact of social skills on team outcomes
Other Heterogeneity analysis on team outcomes -
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Teams randomized based on social skills - Homogenous Teams (all high HHHH or all low LLLL) vs Heterogenous Teams (all HHLL)
Do social skills impact primary innovation outcomes?
How do individual outcomes and traits such as academic outcomes, Big5 Personality, Risk preference affect team outcomes such as chance of success on team innovation outcomes?

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
80 schools are pairwise randomized into treatment and control.
Each school has 2 sections with 40 students each.
Students are randomized into teams based on scores on social skills.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Done using computer
Randomization Unit
Schools, Teams
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
80 schools
Sample size: planned number of observations
6400 students, 80 Teachers 1600 Teams
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
40 schools treatment 40 schools control
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
Teachers College Columbia University Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number