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Grading exams: 100,99,98,... or A,B,C?

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  • Dubey, Pradeep
  • Geanakoplos, John
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    Abstract

    We introduce grading into games of status. Each player chooses effort, producing a stochastic output or score. Utilities depend on the ranking of all the scores. By clustering scores into grades, the ranking is coarsened, and the incentives to work are changed. We apply games of status to grading exams. Our main conclusion is that if students care primarily about their status (relative rank) in class, they are often best motivated to work not by revealing their exact numerical exam scores (100,99,...,1), but instead by clumping them into coarse categories (A,B,C). When student abilities are disparate, the optimal absolute grading scheme is always coarse. Furthermore, it awards fewer A's than there are alpha-quality students, creating small elites. When students are homogeneous, we characterize optimal absolute grading schemes in terms of the stochastic dominance between student performances (when they shirk or work) on subintervals of scores, showing again why coarse grading may be advantageous. In both cases, we prove that absolute grading is better than grading on a curve, provided student scores are independent.

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    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/B6WFW-4YFTM37-1/2/ff73ac64d976264485e7392097f9bfe6
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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Games and Economic Behavior.

    Volume (Year): 69 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 1 (May)
    Pages: 72-94

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:gamebe:v:69:y:2010:i:1:p:72-94

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622836

    Related research

    Keywords: Status Grading Incentives Education Exams;

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    Cited by:
    1. Pradeep Dubey, 2012. "On the Role of Information in Contests," Department of Economics Working Papers 12-11, Stony Brook University, Department of Economics.
    2. Kaplan, Todd R & Zamir, Shmuel, 2014. "Advances in Auctions," MPRA Paper 54656, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. Pradeep K. Dubey & Siddhartha Sahi, 2012. "The Allocation of a Prize," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000000402, David K. Levine.
    4. Pradeep Dubey & Siddhartha Sahi, 2012. "The Allocation of a Prize (R)," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1858, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    5. Oindrila Dey & Swapnendu Banerjee, 2014. "Status Incentives with Discrete Effort: A Note," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 34(2), pages 1205-1213.
    6. James Andreoni & Andy Brownback, 2014. "Grading on a Curve, and other Effects of Group Size on All-Pay Auctions," NBER Working Papers 20184, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Darren Grant & William Green, 2013. "Grades as incentives," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 44(3), pages 1563-1592, June.
    8. Pradeep Dubey & Siddhartha Sah, 2012. "The Allocation of a Prize (Expanded)," Department of Economics Working Papers 12-02, Stony Brook University, Department of Economics.

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