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Relative performance feedback and the effects of being above average — field experiment and replication

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  • Brade, Raphael
  • Himmler, Oliver
  • Jäckle, Robert

Abstract

In a randomized field experiment, we give first-year students in higher education feedback on their relative performance and show that the type of feedback matters, as feedback increases performance only if it informs the student that they placed above average in the past. We reproduce the results in a replication experiment and investigate mechanisms: The effects are not driven by above-average students reacting particularly well to feedback due to individual characteristics; rather, the information about being above average makes feedback effective. We present evidence that individuals focus on good news to adjust their beliefs, and that feedback can offset disadvantages faced by individuals who are held back by their own underestimation of relative abilities. Once beliefs between controls and the treated converge, repeated treatment does not add to the effects.

Suggested Citation

  • Brade, Raphael & Himmler, Oliver & Jäckle, Robert, 2022. "Relative performance feedback and the effects of being above average — field experiment and replication," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 89(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:89:y:2022:i:c:s0272775722000449
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2022.102268
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    Cited by:

    1. Lavinia Kinne, 2023. "Good or Bad News First? The Effect of Feedback Order on Motivation and Performance," ifo Working Paper Series 396, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    2. Hermes, Henning & Huschens, Martin & Rothlauf, Franz & Schunk, Daniel, 2021. "Motivating low-achievers—Relative performance feedback in primary schools," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 187(C), pages 45-59.
    3. Raphael Brade & Oliver Himmler & Robert Jaeckle & Philipp Weinschenk, 2024. "Helping Students to Succeed – The Long-Term Effects of Soft Commitments and Reminders," CESifo Working Paper Series 11001, CESifo.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Relative performance feedback; Randomized field experiment; Selective information processing; Higher education;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

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