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Grading Exams: 100, 99, ..., 1 or A, B, C? Incentives in Games of Status

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    Abstract

    We show that if students care primarily about their status (relative rank) in class, they are best motivated to work not by revealing their exact numerical exam scores (100,99,...,1), but instead by clumping them in broad categories (A,B,C). If their abilities are disparate, the optimal grading scheme awards fewer A's than there are alpha-quality students, creating small elites. If their abilities are common knowledge, then it is better to grade them on an absolute scale (100 to 90 is an A, etc.) rather than on a curve (top 15% is an A, etc.). We develop criteria for optimal grading schemes in terms of the stochastic dominance between student performances.

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    File URL: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/P/cd/d14b/d1467.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1467.

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    Length: 34 pages
    Date of creation: Jul 2004
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1467

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    Related research

    Keywords: Status; Incentives; Education; Grading; Wages;

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    Cited by:
    1. Pradeep Dubey & John Geanakoplos, 2005. "Grading in Games of Status: Marking Exams and Setting Wages," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1544, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Dec 2005.
    2. Ghazala Azmat & Nagore Iriberri, 2009. "The Importance of Relative Performance Feedback Information: Evidence from a Natural Experiment using High School Students," CEP Discussion Papers dp0915, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
    3. Pradeep Dubey & John Geanakoplos, 2009. "Grading Exams: 100, 99, 98,... or A, B, C?," Levine's Working Paper Archive 814577000000000361, David K. Levine.
    4. Ed Hopkins & Tatiana Kornienko, 2007. "Status, Affluence, and Inequality: Rank-Based Comparisons in Games of Status," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001442, UCLA Department of Economics.
    5. Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela & Xianwen Shi, 2007. "Contests for Status," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 338-363.
    6. Pradeep Dubey & John Geanakoplos, 2005. "Grading in Games of Status: Marking Exams and Setting Wages," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1544, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    7. Ed Hopkins & Tatiana Kornienko, 2006. "Methods of Social Comparison in Games of Status," Levine's Bibliography 122247000000001183, UCLA Department of Economics.
    8. Tore Ellingsen & Magnus Johannesson, 2007. "Paying Respect," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 135-150, Fall.
    9. Maya Eden, 2006. "Optimal Ties in Contests," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000374, UCLA Department of Economics.

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