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Joint-Liability vs. Individual Incentives in the Classroom. Lessons from a Field Experiment with Undergraduate Students

  • Alejandro Cid
  • José María Cabrera

We evaluate the impact of joint-liability incentives in the classroom using a randomized field experiment. The instructor designs groups of three students in the classroom and provides a premium to their homework's grade only if all three members of the group meet some requirements. To isolate the joint-liability effect from selfish motivations, we also design an individual incentives treatment. We find that joint-liability incentives impact positively on the grades attained in homework and midterm exams both in experimental courses and in other courses taken by the students in the semester. Though the average positive effect seems to disappear in final exams, the overall impact of joint-liability incentives on the academic achievements in the semester is still positive. A drawback of this program is a decrease in classmate satisfaction. The significant effectiveness of the peer monitoring developed by joint-liability incentives in a group provides novel implications for the design of grading policies in the classroom and for other social settings where incentives may be based in peer monitoring or joint liability.

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File URL: http://www.um.edu.uy/docs/working_paper_um_cee_2012_06.pdf
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Paper provided by Facultad de Ciencias Empresariales y Economia. Universidad de Montevideo. in its series Documentos de Trabajo/Working Papers with number 1206.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:mnt:wpaper:1206
Contact details of provider: Postal: Prudencio de Pena 2440, Montevideo 11600
Web page: http://www.um.edu.uy/cee/
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  1. Charness, Gary B & Gneezy, Uri, 2008. "Incentives to Exercise," University of California at Santa Barbara, Economics Working Paper Series qt3tc3j5x7, Department of Economics, UC Santa Barbara.
  2. Robertas Zubrickas, 2010. "Optimal grading," IEW - Working Papers 487, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  3. Guinnane, T. & Banerjee, A. & Besley, T., 1993. "Thy Neighbor's Keeper: the Design of a Credit Cooperative with Theory and a Test," Papers 705, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  4. Mariano Tommasi & Federico Weinschelbaum, 2004. "Principal-Agents Contracts Under the Threat of Insurance," Working Papers 69, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Apr 2004.
  5. Leonardo Becchetti & Fabio Pisani, 2010. "Microfinance, subsidies and local externalities," Small Business Economics, Springer, vol. 34(3), pages 309-321, April.
  6. Swinton, Omari H., 2010. "The effect of effort grading on learning," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 1176-1182, December.
  7. Dobkin, Carlos & Gil, Ricard & Marion, Justin, 2010. "Skipping class in college and exam performance: Evidence from a regression discontinuity classroom experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 566-575, August.
  8. Philip Oreopoulos & Daniel Lang & Joshua Angrist, 2009. "Incentives and Services for College Achievement: Evidence from a Randomized Trial," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 136-63, January.
  9. Ernesto Dal Bó & Martín A. Rossi, 2011. "Term Length and the Effort of Politicians," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 78(4), pages 1237-1263.
  10. Gary S. Becker & Kevin M. Murphy, 1986. "A Theory of Rational Addiction," University of Chicago - George G. Stigler Center for Study of Economy and State 41, Chicago - Center for Study of Economy and State.
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  12. repec:oup:restud:v:78:y::i:4:p:1237-1263 is not listed on IDEAS
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