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Question 1: Simple Sample Counts

We will first investigate some basic details about the data.

a. How many students are present in the sample?

b. How many of the students in this sample were assigned to the public sign-up treatment?

c. What share of the students in this sample were assigned to the public sign-up treatment?

Question 2: Striking a Balance

Now we will investigate whether the observable traits of participants varied by treatment status.

a. Let’s start with a binary trait: whether or not a student is Hispanic.

i. How many students in the sample are Hispanic?

ii. What share of the students in this sample are Hispanic?

iii. Were students that received the public sign-up form more likely to be Hispanic than those who received the private sign-up form? (Describe both the magnitude and statistical significance of the difference between the two groups. Be sure to also reflect on the implications of your findings. Why do researchers run this test and what do we conclude from the results?)

b. Next, we will analyze another binary trait: whether or not a student reports sometimes skipping school with friends.

i. How many students in the sample report sometimes skipping school?

ii. What share of the students in this sample report sometimes skipping school?

iii. Were students that received the public sign-up form more likely to report skipping school than those who received the private sign-up form? As in Question (a)(iii), describe the magnitude, statistical significance, and implications of the difference between the two groups.

c. Finally, we will try a continuous trait: GPA.

i. What is the average GPA of students in the sample?

ii. Is there a difference in average GPA between students who received the public and private sign-up forms? Describe the magnitude, statistical significance, and implications of the difference.

Question 3: Impacts on Outcomes

Estimate the causal effect of being assigned to a public sign-up form on each of the following outcomes:

a. Whether or not a student signed up for the SAT course

b. Whether or not a student physically logged into the SAT course

In each of your responses, be sure to describe the frequency of the outcome in both the public and private sign-up groups, the magnitude and statistical significance of the difference between the two groups, and the implications of your results (i.e., what do you conclude from running this test?).

Question 4: Threats to Validity

Suppose a (somewhat informed) reader reviews the description of this RCT and your analysis of it. They make a series of critiques. For each of the following critiques, describe how you might respond to it – specifically referencing one of the caveats associated with RCTs that we discussed in class.

a. “I’m not sure I believe the causal estimates of the public sign-up form on whether or not a student physically logged into the SAT course. After the researchers left, students could have communicated with each other about the experiment – and in doing so, they may have changed their beliefs about whether others would learn about their decision.”

b. “The students knew that this was an experiment and that they were being monitored by outside researchers. I wonder if that drove some of their decisions regarding whether or not to enroll in the course.”

c. “I’m interested in examining the effects of peer pressure on educational decisions in my home country of Brazil, and I’m trying to figure out what lessons I can glean from this RCT.”

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