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Blissful Ignorance? A Natural Experiment on the Effect of Feedback on Students'Performance

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  • Oriana Bandiera
  • Valentino Larcinese
  • Imran Rasul

Abstract

We provide evidence on whether providing university students with feedback on their past exam performance affects their future exam performance. Our identification strategy exploits a natural experiment in a leading UK university where different departments have historically different rules on the provision of feedback to their students. We find the provision of feedback has a positive effect on students’ subsequent test scores: the mean impact corresponds to 13% of a standard deviation in test scores. The impact of feedback is stronger for more able students and for students who have less information to start with about the academic environment, while no subset of individuals is found to be discouraged by feedback. Our findings suggest that students have imperfect information on how their effort translates into test scores and that the provision of feedback might be a cost?effective means to increase students' exam performance. Keywords: feedback, incentives, students' performance, university education.

Suggested Citation

  • Oriana Bandiera & Valentino Larcinese & Imran Rasul, 2014. "Blissful Ignorance? A Natural Experiment on the Effect of Feedback on Students'Performance," Working Papers 511, IGIER (Innocenzo Gasparini Institute for Economic Research), Bocconi University.
  • Handle: RePEc:igi:igierp:511
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    Cited by:

    1. Richard Murphy & Felix Weinhardt, 2014. "Top of the Class: The Importance of Ordinal Rank," CESifo Working Paper Series 4815, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Fischer, Mira & Sliwka, Dirk, 2018. "Confidence in Knowledge or Confidence in the Ability to Learn: An Experiment on the Causal Effects of Beliefs on Motivation," IZA Discussion Papers 11327, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Shinya Kajitani & Keiichi Morimoto & Shiba Suzuki, 2017. "Relative Performance Information Feedback and Just-Pass Behavior: Evidence from a Field Experiment," Working Papers 36, Meisei University, School of Economics.
    4. Mette Trier Damgaard & Helena Skyt Nielsen, 2017. "Nudging in education," Economics Working Papers 2017-05, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University.
    5. Seda Ertac & Mert Gumren & Levent Kockesen, 2017. "Strategic Feedback in Teams: Theory and Experimental Evidence," Koç University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum Working Papers 1714, Koc University-TUSIAD Economic Research Forum.
    6. Jeworrek, Sabrina & Mertins, Vanessa & Vlassopoulos, Michael, 2018. ""The good news about bad news": Feedback about past organisational failure and its impact on worker productivity," IWH Discussion Papers 1/2018, Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH).

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