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Incentives for Students: Evidence from Two Natural Experiments

  • Philipp Beltz
  • Susanne Link
  • Andreas Ostermaier

Incentives are widely used to increase people’s effort and thus performance. Whileacademic achievement depends heavily on effort, there is little empirical evidence onhow students respond to incentives other than grades and monetary rewards. We drawon two natural experiments that occurred at a major European university and use thedifference-in-differences approach to show how program and course policies affect theeffort and performance of students. Our findings indicate that students perform worse(i) if their effort is rewarded belatedly, (ii) if their effort has little impact on their finalgrade, or (iii) if they may resit exams more often and thus less effort is required from them.

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Paper provided by Ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich in its series Ifo Working Paper Series with number Ifo Working Paper No. 133.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:ces:ifowps:_133
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  1. Michael Spence, 1973. "Job Market Signaling," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(3), pages 355-374.
  2. Michael Kremer & Edward Miguel & Rebecca Thornton, 2004. "Incentives to Learn," NBER Working Papers 10971, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Durden, Garey C & Ellis, Larry V, 1995. "The Effects of Attendance on Student Learning in Principles of Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 343-46, May.
  4. Joshua Angrist & Eric Bettinger & Erik Bloom & Elizabeth King & Michael Kremer, 2002. "Vouchers for Private Schooling in Colombia: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(5), pages 1535-1558, December.
  5. John List & Sally Sadoff & Steven Levitt & Susanne Neckermann, 2013. "The behavioralist goes to school: Leveraging behavioral economics to improve educational performance," Framed Field Experiments 00379, The Field Experiments Website.
  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. Scott E. Carrell & Marianne E. Page & James E. West, 2009. "Sex and Science: How Professor Gender Perpetuates the Gender Gap," NBER Working Papers 14959, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Nicole Schneeweis, 2011. "Educational institutions and the integration of migrants," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 24(4), pages 1281-1308, October.
  9. Joshua D. Angrist & Victor Lavy, 1999. "Using Maimonides' Rule to Estimate the Effect of Class Size on Scholastic Achievement," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 114(2), pages 533-575.
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