Quest for Knowledge and Pursuit of Grades: Information, Course Selection, and Grade Inflation

33 Pages Posted: 9 Oct 2007 Last revised: 29 Jun 2009

See all articles by Talia Bar

Talia Bar

University of Connecticut - Department of Economics

Vrinda Kadiyali

Cornell University - Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management

Asaf Zussman

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics

Date Written: August 2008

Abstract

This paper exploits a unique natural experiment - Cornell University's 1996 decision to publish course median grades online - to examine the effect of grade information on course selection and grade inflation. We model students' course selection as dependent on their tastes, abilities, and expected grades. The model yields three testable hypotheses: (1) students will tend to be drawn to leniently graded courses once exposed to grade information; (2) the most talented students will be less drawn to leniently graded courses than their peers; (3) the change in students' behavior will contribute to grade inflation. Examining a large dataset that covers the period 1990-2004, our study provides evidence consistent with these predictions.

Keywords: information, course selection, grade inflation

JEL Classification: D83, I21, I23, L15

Suggested Citation

Bar, Talia R. and Kadiyali, Vrinda and Zussman, Asaf, Quest for Knowledge and Pursuit of Grades: Information, Course Selection, and Grade Inflation (August 2008). Johnson School Research Paper Series No. 13-07, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1019580 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1019580

Talia R. Bar

University of Connecticut - Department of Economics ( email )

365 Fairfield Way, U-1063
Storrs, CT 06269-1063
United States

Vrinda Kadiyali (Contact Author)

Cornell University - Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management ( email )

Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-1985 (Phone)
607-254-4590 (Fax)

Asaf Zussman

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - Department of Economics ( email )

Israel

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