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Parents Select Peers for me? A Field Experiment

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This blog documented my experience of conducting a field experiment in Hunan, China. I got the chance to conduct a field experiment with PhD students from Zhejiang University in a primary school in poverty area. Our focus is about the education in a developing country. To prepare for the study, I have discussed with another PhD student Wenyuan about the experimental design for almost half a year. In June, 2023, I went back to my hometown China to complete the study.

Research Question

How can parents strategically impose their influence on their kids to ensure a positive peer effect, and thus help human capital accumulation of their children?

Our Devices: Tablets!

Before embarking on our grand adventure at the designated school, our first task was to acquire and handle the most essential tools of our trade: the Huawei tablets and an impressive array of charging cables!

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Tablets and Charging cables

Now you might be wondering, why tablets? Couldn't we just go for the computers? Well, my friend, let me enlighten you. Picture this: a school tucked away in a humble village, trying to educate not just a handful, but a whole bunch of students in a single classroom. Mot of students there not only rarely use the computers, but also never get the chance to self-own such a "modern" electronic device. Therefore, we have to bring the devices to overcome the digital limitations. Can you imagine the chaos when we entered the classroom with tablets? It would be like trying to fit an elephant into a teacup!

Plus, by having our trusty tablets, we can take charge of our own destiny and control the pace of our research. Who needs a slowpoke computer when you can be the captain of your own digital ship?

However, managing devices was pure torture. I spent endless hours checking Wi-Fi connections, installing browsers, and monitoring battery levels. It was a constant struggle, but it made me a tech-savvy warrior. Cheers to surviving the device management battlefield!

Arrive at the School

Our experiment kicked off on June 7th, 2023. Despite a sleepless night of debugging and coding, I mustered the energy to wake up early and catch the bus to school. Dedication knows no bounds!

Let's have a look at the School! I would say, at that time I am still 100% charged and really confident. I had to forego my routine of meticulously weaving my beard.

Confidence (last for less than 20mins...)

Here is my selfie with another PhD student, Gansong. We are responsible for the whole coding stuff for the experiment.

Experiment Begins!