Motivation and Incentives in Education: Evidence from a Summer Reading Experiment

49 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2015

See all articles by Jonathan Guryan

Jonathan Guryan

Northwestern University - Human Development and Social Policy (HDSP) Program; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

James Kim

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education

Kyung Park

University of Chicago

Date Written: January 2015

Abstract

For whom and under what conditions do incentives work in education? In the context of a summer reading program called Project READS, we test whether responsiveness to incentives is positively or negatively related to the student’s baseline level of motivation to read. Elementary school students were mailed books weekly during the summer, mailed books and also offered an incentive to read, or assigned to a control group. We find that students who were more motivated to read at baseline were more responsive to incentives, suggesting that incentives may not effectively target the students whose behavior they are intended to change.

Suggested Citation

Guryan, Jonathan and Kim, James and Park, Kyung, Motivation and Incentives in Education: Evidence from a Summer Reading Experiment (January 2015). NBER Working Paper No. w20918, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2558970

Jonathan Guryan (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Human Development and Social Policy (HDSP) Program ( email )

2046 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

James Kim

Harvard University - Harvard Graduate School of Education ( email )

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Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Kyung Park

University of Chicago ( email )

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