Learning together: A field experiment on parental involvement for children's learning in Uganda

Last registered on August 29, 2022


Trial Information

General Information

Learning together: A field experiment on parental involvement for children's learning in Uganda
Initial registration date
August 29, 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 29, 2022, 5:12 PM EDT

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



Primary Investigator

NHH Norwegian School of Economics

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Norwegian School of Economics
PI Affiliation
Norwegian School of Economics
PI Affiliation
Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies
PI Affiliation
Trinity College Dublin
PI Affiliation

Additional Trial Information

On going
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Children in low-income countries often learn little from attending school (World Bank, 2018). The economics literature on how to improve education in developing countries is extensive but typically focuses on the school as an arena of learning (Glewwe and Muralidharan, 2016). So far, less attention has been paid to the role of parents. When school quality is low, the importance of the home as an arena for learning grows (Nye et al, 2006; Epstein, 1987; Niklas et al., 2021). While most parents care about their children’s education, they may not be able to provide sufficient support due to a lack of ability or motivation, a heavy discounting of the future, or a lack of information on either the educational production function or the returns to parental investment. Interventions seeking to stimulate parental engagement may thus be justified.
One way to stimulate such engagement is to actively link parents to schools, through parental involvement programs. Barrera-Osorio et al. (2020) report from two field experiments in Mexico working through parent associations. They find that providing information to parents about ways to become involved in school activities was effective in increasing parents’ involvement with their children’s education at home, although this did not have any effect on the students’ test scores.
In this project, we analyze an intervention that more directly seeks to stimulate home learning, targeting families with primary school children (aged around 8-10) in Uganda. We evaluate it using a randomized controlled trial where families in the treatment arm are offered some learning material (exercise books).
The learning intervention consists of exercise books in language (literacy and English) and mathematics as well as a short week-by-week progress plan, which specifies the relevant chapter for each week of the school term. Both the exercise books and the plan cover the duration of one school term (around 3 months). The content of the teaching material and the progress plan will harmonize with the regular content and plan at school. Hence, the teaching material will be selected by local experts from what already exists in the market, but which families typically cannot afford. The intervention, therefore, provides a valuable add-on to the regular teaching material, and an opportunity for the parents (and other family members) to get involved in the learning process.


Barrera-Osorio, Felipe, Paul Gertler, Nozomi Nakajima, and Harry Patrinos (2020). "Promoting parental involvement in schools: Evidence from two randomized experiments,” NBER Working Paper 28040

Glewwe, Paul, Karthik Muralidharan (2016). “Improving Education Outcomes in Developing Countries: Evidence, Knowledge Gaps, and Policy Implications,” Chapter 10 in Eric A. Hanushek, Stephen Machin, Ludger Woessmann (eds.) Handbook of the Economics of Education, Vol. 5 Elsevier.

Epstein, Joyce L. (1987). “Parent involvement: What research says to administrators,” Education and Urban Society 19 2: 119-136.

Niklas, Frank, Caroline Cohrssen, Simone Lehrl, Amy R. Napoli (2021). “Editorial: Children's Competencies Development in the Home Learning Environment,” Frontiers in Psychology 12, URL=https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.706360

Nye, Chad, Herb Turner, and Jamie Schwartz (2006). “Approaches to parent involvement for improving the academic performance of elementary school children,” Campbell Systematic Reviews 2006:4, March 2006.

External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Bjorvatn, Kjetil et al. 2022. "Learning together: A field experiment on parental involvement for children's learning in Uganda." AEA RCT Registry. August 29. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.9991-1.0
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Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The main outcome will be the child's learning (please see below for further details)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Category 1: Child’s learning
The main outcome of interest is children’s learning. We focus on the two dimensions targeted by the interventions, namely math and reading/language, and measure these both through surveys and data from school records.

1.1 Mathematics (two outcomes)
1.1.1 EGMA (index): Share of correct answers (or correct answers per minute for timed subtasks) across 3 categories: Number identification, Number discrimination, and Missing number.
1.1.2 School register data: Ranking within the class in mathematics.

1.2 Language/reading (two outcomes)
1.2.1 EGRA (index): Share of correct answers (or correct answers per minute for timed subtasks) across 11 categories: Orientation to print, phonemic awareness, initial sound identification, letter identification, letter sound identification, oral reading fluency, oral reading comprehension, English vocabulary, letter writing, listening comprehension, sentence dictation.
1.2.2 School register data: Ranking within the class in English and Literacy.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
We have four categories of secondary outcomes (please see below for further details): Time use in home learning, parent's attitudes to education, child well-being and household well-being.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Category 2: Time use in home learning
An important source of increased learning is more time spent on learning activities. We measure time spent on learning by the child, and time spent by parents or elder siblings helping the child with its homework.

2.1 Time use child
2.1.1 Minutes spent on homework and learning on a typical day
2.1.2 Days spent on home learning activities in the last week

2.2 Time use others (minutes per weekday spent with target child on reading, homework, and school activities, as reported by the mother)
2.2.1 Mother
2.2.2 Father
2.2.3 Elder sibling

Category 3. Parents’ attitudes to education
The parents’ attitude to education can be key for long-term learning. We measure these attitudes on three dimensions: knowledge, beliefs, and self-efficacy.

3.1 Mother’s knowledge of education
3.1.1 School knowledge: Respondents’ knowledge of P2 school curriculum, a composite index of five questions (Appendix, r10-r13).
3.1.2 Textbook knowledge: Respondents’ knowledge of practice books, a composite index of four questions (Appendix, q1-q5).

3.2 Mother’s beliefs about/attitudes to education
3.2.1 Adequacy of parental belief of child’s performance relative to others. Measured as the distance between the relative performance guess and the actual performance based on the measures described in category 1 (Appendix, H7a-H7d).
3.2.2 Attitudes on the importance of education and its role. Measured as agreement to 4 statements (Appendix, I1a-I1d).

3.3 Mother’s self-efficacy
3.3.1 Parents’ sense of competence scale: We follow the scoring instructions in creating a summary variable for parents’ sense of competence (PSOC).
3.3.2 Parents’ confidence, measured as the average confidence in motivating and supporting the child in learning and at school (Appendix, H10a and h10b).

3.4-3.6: similar as 3.1-3.3, but for father.

Category 4: Child well-being
Increased focus on learning can be a source of both pleasure and stress for the child. For this purpose, we measure children’s mental health and pro-social behavior based on two standard survey instruments: SDQ and ISELA.

4.1 SDQ: We follow the scoring instructions, and create indicators of total difficulties and difficulties in the 5 sub-domains.

4.2 ISELA: Share of correct answers in 3 categories: Stress management, empathy, and solving conflict.

Category 5: Household well-being
We are also interested in whether the learning intervention creates overall benefits to the household or, alternatively, undesirable side effects. For this purpose, we measure happiness and well-being, including whether it has caused tensions and increased violence against children, and whether or not the focus on learning has crowded out time spent on work, and hence led to a reduction in incomes.

5.1 Happiness and Stress
5.1.1 “How happy are you with your life?”, answered on a scale from 0 to 10. We will standardize the answers.
5.1.2 Satisfaction with life: “In your opinion, where are you on the ladder of life at the moment?”, answered on a scale from 1 to 10. We will standardize the answers.
5.1.3 Perceived stress: We use Cohen’s perceived stress scale.

5.2 Violence against children: An indicator for whether the target child experienced any violence during the last 12 months, separated in total, physical and psychical.

5.3 Labor supply and income
5.3.1 Total hours spent by the respondent in income-generating activities during the last month.
5.3.2 Total labor income generated by the household

5.4 and 5.5: Similar to 5.1 and 5.3, but for the father.

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Sample selection:

During March and April 2022, we conducted a school survey in the Masaka district. The purpose of the survey was to identify eligible schools, get information about teaching material, and to obtain the enrolment lists of primary 2 (P2) students. We used these lists to sample households to conduct the baseline survey.
Households had to satisfy the following eligibility criteria: One of the children was enrolled in P2 and continued to be so in term 2; the child was between 6 and 12 years old; the household did not intend to move away during term 2; and at least one adult caregiver was present in the household.
In total, we identified 27 schools, with 7 to 87 eligible P2 students. The total sample of eligible households (and thus students) is 933.

Data collection:

We conduct three rounds of surveys:
1. Baseline survey: May 2022 - before the start of the second school semester.
2. Short-run follow-up survey: August 2022 - at the end of the second term. We collect data on the same set of indicators as at baseline, including the childhood development survey. Moreover, when available, we survey the father and the oldest sibling (living in the household).
3. Endline survey: December 2022 – the end of the third term. We collect data on the same set of indicators as at baseline and the short-term follow-up survey, including the childhood development survey.

In addition, we collect school administrative data on the children (grades and attendance) for the entire school year.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Randomization was done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
933 households
Sample size: planned number of observations
933 households
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
461 households in treatment, 472 households in 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
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
NHH-IRB 37/22
Analysis Plan

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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