Incentives and Services for College Achievement: Evidence from a Randomized Trial

49 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2007

See all articles by Joshua D. Angrist

Joshua D. Angrist

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Daniel Lang

University of Toronto

Philip Oreopoulos

University of Toronto - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

Date Written: October 2007

Abstract

Many North American college students have trouble satisfying degree requirements in a timely manner. This paper reports on a randomized field experiment involving two strategies designed to improve academic performance among entering full-time undergraduates at a large Canadian university. One treatment group (services) was offered peer advising and organized study groups. Another (incentives) was offered substantial merit-scholarships for solid, but not necessarily top, first year grades. A third treatment group combined both interventions. Service take-up rates were much higher for women than for men and for students offered both services and incentives than for those offered services alone. No program had an effect on men's grades or other measures of academic performance. However, the Fall and first-year grades of women in the combined group were significantly higher than those of women in the control group, and women in this group earned more course credits and were less likely than controls to be on academic probation. These differentials persisted through the end of the second year, in spite of the fact that incentives were given in the first year only. The results suggest that the study skills acquired in response to a combination of services and incentives can have a lasting effect, and that the combination of services and incentives is more promising than either alone.

Keywords: post-secondary schooling, dropout, randomized trials

JEL Classification: I21, I28, J24

Suggested Citation

Angrist, Joshua and Lang, Daniel and Oreopoulos, Philip, Incentives and Services for College Achievement: Evidence from a Randomized Trial (October 2007). IZA Discussion Paper No. 3134. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1032118

Joshua Angrist (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

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Daniel Lang

University of Toronto ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.scar.toronto.edu/~mgmt/faculty/lang/index.htm

Philip Oreopoulos

University of Toronto - Department of Economics ( email )

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Canada

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

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Canada

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