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When Opportunity Knocks, Who Answers? New Evidence on College Achievement Awards

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  • Joshua Angrist
  • Philip Oreopoulos
  • Tyler Williams

Abstract

We evaluate the effects of academic achievement awards for first and second-year college students on a Canadian commuter campus. The award scheme offered linear cash incentives for course grades above 70. Awards were paid every term. Program participants also had access to peer advising by upperclassmen. Program engagement appears to have been high but overall treatment effects were small. The intervention increased the number of courses graded above 70 and points earned above 70 for second-year students, but there was no significant effect on overall GPA. Results are somewhat stronger for a subsample that correctly described the program rules. We argue that these results fit in with an emerging picture of mostly modest effects for cash award programs of this type at the post-secondary level.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16643.

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Date of creation: Dec 2010
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Publication status: published as “When Opportunity Knocks, Who Answers? New Evidence on College Achievement Awards,” (with Phil Oreopoulos and Tyler Williams), Journal of Human Resources, forthcoming, 2014.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16643

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  1. Dynarski, Susan, 2004. "The New Merit Aid," Working Paper Series rwp04-009, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    • Susan Dynarski, 2004. "The New Merit Aid," NBER Chapters, in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 63-100 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Lisa Barrow & Thomas Brock & Lashawn Richburg-Hayes & Cecilia Elena Rouse, 2009. "Paying for performance: the education impacts of a community college scholarship program for low-income adults," Working Paper Series WP-09-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  3. 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).
  4. Kremer, Michael & Miguel, Edward & Thornton, Rebecca & Ozier, Owen, 2005. "Incentives to learn," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3546, The World Bank.
  5. Thomas Dee, 2009. "Conditional Cash Penalties in Education: Evidence from the Learnfare Experiment," NBER Working Papers 15126, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Edwin Leuven & Hessel Oosterbeek & Bas van der Klaauw, 2004. "The e ect of financial rewards on students achievement: Evidence from a randomized experiment," HEW 0410002, EconWPA.
  7. Roland G. Fryer, Jr, 2010. "Financial Incentives and Student Achievement: Evidence from Randomized Trials," NBER Working Papers 15898, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Pietro Garibaldi & Francesco Giavazzi & Andrea Ichino & Enrico Rettore, 2007. "College Cost and Time to Complete a Degree: Evidence from Tuition Discontinuities," NBER Working Papers 12863, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Eric P. Bettinger, 2012. "Paying to Learn: The Effect of Financial Incentives on Elementary School Test Scores," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 94(3), pages 686-698, August.
  10. Eric P. Bettinger & Bridget Terry Long, 2005. "Addressing the Needs of Under-Prepared Students in Higher Education: Does College Remediation Work?," NBER Working Papers 11325, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Angrist, Joshua & Lavy, Victor, 2002. "The Effect of High School Matriculation Awards: Evidence from Randomized Trials," CEPR Discussion Papers 3827, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Rodríguez-Planas, Núria, 2010. "Longer-Term Impacts of Mentoring, Educational Services, and Incentives to Learn: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," IZA Discussion Papers 4754, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  13. Leuven, Edwin & Oosterbeek, Hessel & van der Klaauw, Bas, 2003. "The Effect of Financial Rewards on Students' Achievements: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 3921, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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Cited by:
  1. Åslund, Olof & Engdahl, Mattias, 2013. "The value of earning for learning: Performance bonuses in immigrant language training," Working Paper Series, Center for Labor Studies 2013:1, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.

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