IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

How Much is That Exam Grade Really Worth? An Estimation of Student Risk Aversion to Their Unknown Final College Course Grades


  • Lanier Nalley
  • Andrew McKenzie


This study created an experimental design with which students can empirically assess their risk behavior with respect to exam grades within an expected utility framework. Specifically, the authors analyzed students’ risk preferences associated with taking exams and earning a “risky” unknown grade versus not taking exams and instead obtaining a “sure” grade. Students have grade-choice decisions in nonhypothetical situations that impact their actual exam grades. Estimates indicate that the more risk-averse a student is, the more willing he or she is to accept a lower certain grade and not take an exam than to run the risk of actually taking it. We believe that this experimental setup and its binding results make it an easy but effective way of teaching the obtuse concept of risk aversion.

Suggested Citation

  • Lanier Nalley & Andrew McKenzie, 2011. "How Much is That Exam Grade Really Worth? An Estimation of Student Risk Aversion to Their Unknown Final College Course Grades," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(4), pages 338-353, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jeduce:v:42:y:2011:i:4:p:338-353
    DOI: 10.1080/00220485.2011.606085

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:taf:jeduce:v:42:y:2011:i:4:p:338-353. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Chris Longhurst). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.