A randomized controlled trial to increase student usage of on-demand tutoring

Last registered on September 19, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

A randomized controlled trial to increase student usage of on-demand tutoring
Initial registration date
September 09, 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
September 19, 2022, 3:03 PM EDT

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



Primary Investigator

Brown University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
This project studies the implementation of an on-demand tutoring program in secondary schools in a charter school district in California (N=6,999). All 6th-12th grade students had access to 24/7 tutoring support during Spring 2021. We conduct a randomized controlled trial testing a personalized messaging intervention to increase student usage (N=4,763). Students are randomly assigned to a messaging condition targeting: (1) Students Only, (2) Parents Only, (3) Students+Parents, or (4) a control group. The three treatment conditions encourage usage of the tutoring program via mailers, emails, and text messages. Our primary outcome is whether students take-up tutoring (i.e., log-on and request help from a tutor).
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Robinson, Carly. 2022. "A randomized controlled trial to increase student usage of on-demand tutoring." AEA RCT Registry. September 19. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.9710-1.0
Experimental Details


The intervention entails sending personalized communications to encourage student usage of a free on-demand tutoring platform.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Take-up of on-demand tutoring
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
We create an indicator for take-up of on-demand tutoring - students who ever logged in to the on-demand tutoring platform and had a session with a tutor qualify as having taken up the resource

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Engagement (number of sessions; number of messages exchanged)
Academic (Passing courses; GPA)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We conduct an RCT to test the effect of sending personalized communications to encourage usage of a free, on-demand tutoring resource. We randomly assigned 4,763 middle and high school students to a control group or one of three treatment arms, stratifying by school, grade, and home language (English or Spanish):
(1) Control (no additional communications),
(2) Student Only (i.e., students received personalized emails),
(3) Parent Only (i.e., parents received personalized text messages or emails), or
(4) Student and Parent (i.e., both students and parents received the personalized communications).
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization done in Stata
Randomization Unit
Individual (Student-level randomization)
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
4,763 students
Sample size: planned number of observations
4,763 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
(1) Control = 1188
(2) Student Only = 1202
(3) Parent Only = 1192
(4) Student and Parent = 1181
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
The minimum detectable effect for take-up with no controls is 4.1-percentage points (off a baseline of 20%) with a sample size of 1150 per condition.

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Brown University
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