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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 Note: CH ED LS
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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. 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.
    4. Philip Oreopoulos & Uros Petronijevic, 2016. "Student Coaching: How Far Can Technology Go?," NBER Working Papers 22630, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Graham Beattie & Jean-William P. Laliberté & Philip Oreopoulos, 2016. "Thrivers and Divers: Using Non-Academic Measures to Predict College Success and Failure," NBER Working Papers 22629, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. 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.
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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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