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Goal Setting, Academic Reminders, and College Success: A Large-Scale Field Experiment

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  • Christopher R. Dobronyi
  • Philip Oreopoulos
  • Uros Petronijevic

Abstract

This paper presents an independent large-scale experimental evaluation of two online goal-setting interventions. Both interventions are based on promising findings from the field of social psychology. Approximately 1,400 first-year undergraduate students at a large Canadian university were randomly assigned to complete one of two online goal-setting treatments or a control task. Additionally, half of treated participants also were offered the opportunity to receive follow-up goal-oriented reminders through e-mail or text messages in an attempt to test a cost-effective method for increasing the saliency of treatment. Across all treatment groups, we observe no evidence of an effect on GPA, course credits, or second year persistence. Our estimates are precise enough to discern a seven percent standardized performance effect at a five percent significance level. Our results hold by subsample, for various outcome variables, and across a number of specifications.

Suggested Citation

  • Christopher R. Dobronyi & Philip Oreopoulos & Uros Petronijevic, 2017. "Goal Setting, Academic Reminders, and College Success: A Large-Scale Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 23738, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:23738
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Philip Oreopoulos & Robert S. Brown & Adam M. Lavecchia, 2017. "Pathways to Education: An Integrated Approach to Helping At-Risk High School Students," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 125(4), pages 947-984.
    2. 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 136-163, January.
    3. Philip Oreopoulos & Uros Petronijevic, 2018. "Student Coaching: How Far Can Technology Go?," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 53(2), pages 299-329.
    4. Philippe Belley & Lance Lochner, 2007. "The Changing Role of Family Income and Ability in Determining Educational Achievement," Journal of Human Capital, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(1), pages 37-89.
    5. Kraft, Matthew A. & Rogers, Todd, 2015. "The underutilized potential of teacher-to-parent communication: Evidence from a field experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 49-63.
    6. Adam M. Lavecchia & Heidi Liu & Philip Oreopoulos, 2014. "Behavioral Economics of Education: Progress and Possibilities," NBER Working Papers 20609, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Susan E. Mayer & Ariel Kalil & Philip Oreopoulos & Sebastian Gallegos, 2015. "Using Behavioral Insights to Increase Parental Engagement: The Parents and Children Together (PACT) Intervention," NBER Working Papers 21602, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Beattie, Graham & Laliberté, Jean-William P. & Oreopoulos, Philip, 2018. "Thrivers and divers: Using non-academic measures to predict college success and failure," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 170-182.
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    Cited by:

    1. Pugatch, Todd & Wilson, Nicholas, 2018. "Nudging study habits: A field experiment on peer tutoring in higher education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 151-161.
    2. Damgaard, Mette Trier & Nielsen, Helena Skyt, 2018. "Nudging in education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 313-342.
    3. Islam,Asad & Kwon,Sungoh & Masood,Eema & Prakash,Nishith & Sabarwal,Shwetlena & Saraswat,Deepak, 2020. "When Goal-Setting Forges Ahead but Stops Short," Policy Research Working Paper Series 9406, The World Bank.
    4. Philip Oreopoulos & Uros Petronijevic, 2019. "The Remarkable Unresponsiveness of College Students to Nudging And What We Can Learn from It," NBER Working Papers 26059, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Philip Oreopoulos & Richard W. Patterson & Uros Petronijevic & Nolan G. Pope, 2018. "When Studying and Nudging Don’t Go as Planned: Unsuccessful Attempts to Help Traditional and Online College Students," NBER Working Papers 25036, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Islam, Asad & Kwon, Sungoh & Masood, Eema & Prakash, Nishith & Sabarwal, Shwetlena & Saraswat, Deepak, 2020. "When Goal-Setting Forges Ahead but Stops Short," GLO Discussion Paper Series 526, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    7. Islam, Asadul & Kwon, Sungoh & Masood, Eema & Prakash, Nishith & Sabarwal, Shwetlena & Saraswat, Deepak, 2020. "When Goal-Setting Forges Ahead but Stops Short," IZA Discussion Papers 13188, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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