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Lead Them to Water and Pay Them to Drink: An Experiment with Services and Incentives for College Achievement

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  • Joshua Angrist
  • Daniel Lang
  • Philip Oreopoulos

Abstract

High rates of attrition, delayed completion, and poor achievement are growing concerns at colleges and universities in North America. This paper reports on a randomized field experiment involving two strategies designed to improve these outcomes among first-year undergraduates at a large Canadian university. One treatment group was offered peer advising and organized study group services. Another was offered substantial merit-scholarships for solid, but not necessarily top, first year grades. A third treatment group combined both interventions. Service take-up rates were much higher for students offered both services and scholarships than for those offered services alone. Females also used services more than males. No program had an effect on grades for males. However, first-term grades were significantly higher for females in the two scholarship treatment groups. These effects faded somewhat by year's end, but remain significant for females who planned to take enough courses to qualify for a scholarship. There also appears to have been an effect on retention for females offered both scholarships and services. This effect is large enough to generate an overall increase in retention. On balance, the results suggest that a combination of services and incentives is more promising than either alone.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 12790.

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Date of creation: Dec 2006
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:12790

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References

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  1. Joshua Angrist & Eric Bettinger & Erik Bloom & Elizabeth King & Michael Kremer, 2002. "Vouchers for private schooling in colombia: Evidence from a randomized natural experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00203, The Field Experiments Website.
  2. Dynarski, Susan, 2002. "The Consequences of Merit Aid," Working Paper Series rwp02-051, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  3. Christopher M. Cornwell & David B. Mustard & Deepa Sridhar, 2005. "The Enrollment Effects of Merit-Based Financial Aid: Evidence from Georgia's HOPE Scholarship," HEW 0501002, EconWPA.
  4. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 2002. "The Effect of High School Matriculation Awards: Evidence from Randomized Trials," NBER Working Papers 9389, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Bengt Holmstrom & Paul R. Milgrom, 1985. "Aggregation and Linearity in the Provision of Intertemporal Incentives," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 742, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  6. Christopher Cornwell & David B. Mustard & Deepa J. Sridhar, 2006. "The Enrollment Effects of Merit-Based Financial Aid: Evidence from Georgia's HOPE Program," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(4), pages 761-786, October.
  7. J. Dominitz & C. F. Manski, . "Using expectations data to study subjective income expectations," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1050-94, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  8. Jaeger, David A & Page, Marianne E, 1996. "Degrees Matter: New Evidence on Sheepskin Effects in the Returns to Education," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(4), pages 733-40, November.
  9. Loury, Linda Datcher & Garman, David, 1995. "College Selectivity and Earnings," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 13(2), pages 289-308, April.
  10. Victor Lavy & Analia Schlosser, 2005. "Targeted Remedial Education for Underperforming Teenagers: Costs and Benefits," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(4), pages 839-874, October.
  11. Edwin Leuven & Hessel Oosterbeek & Bas van der Klaauw, 2010. "The Effect of Financial Rewards on Students' Achievement: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(6), pages 1243-1265, December.
  12. David Card, 1994. "Earnings, Schooling, and Ability Revisited," NBER Working Papers 4832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Michael Kremer & Edward Miguel & Rebecca Thornton, 2004. "Incentives to learn," Natural Field Experiments 00289, The Field Experiments Website.
  14. Eric Bettinger, 2004. "How Financial Aid Affects Persistence," NBER Chapters, in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 207-238 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Oreopoulos, Philip, 2007. "Do dropouts drop out too soon? Wealth, health and happiness from compulsory schooling," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(11-12), pages 2213-2229, December.
  16. Susan Clampet-Lundquist & J. Greg Duncan & Kathryn Edin & Jeffrey R. Kling, 2006. "Moving At-Risk Teenagers Out of High-Risk Neighborhoods: Why Girls Fare Better Than Boys," Working Papers 888, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  17. Kremer, Michael Robert & Miguel, Edward A. & Thorton, Rebecca L, 2004. "Incentives to Learn," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt9kc4p47q, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
  18. Michael Anderson, 2005. "Uncovering Gender Differences in the Effects of Early Intervention: A Reevaluation of the Abecedarian, Perry Preschool, and Early Training Projects," HEW 0509008, EconWPA, revised 26 Sep 2005.
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Cited by:
  1. Pietro Garibaldi & Francesco Giavazzi & Andrea Ichino & Enrico Rettore, 2012. "College Cost and Time to Complete a Degree: Evidence from Tuition Discontinuities," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(3), pages 699-711, August.
  2. Angrist, Joshua & Lang, Daniel W. & Oreopoulos, Philip, 2007. "Incentives and Services for College Achievement: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," IZA Discussion Papers 3134, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  3. Lamarche, Carlos, 2011. "Measuring the incentives to learn in Colombia using new quantile regression approaches," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(2), pages 278-288, November.
  4. Kevin Milligan & Mark Stabile, 2010. "Do Child Tax Benefits Affect the Wellbeing of Children? Evidence from Canadian Child Benefit Expansions," STICERD - Public Economics Programme Discussion Papers 01, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
  5. Morin, Louis-Philippe, 2010. "Estimating the BenefiÂ…t of High School for College-Bound Students," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2010-3, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 30 Jan 2010.
  6. Louis-Philippe Morin, 2010. "Estimating the Benefit of High School for College-Bound Students," Working Papers 1002E, University of Ottawa, Department of Economics.

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