What You Don't Know... Can't Hurt You? A Field Experiment on Relative Performance Feedback in Higher Education

46 Pages Posted: 4 Apr 2016

See all articles by Ghazala Azmat

Ghazala Azmat

Sciences Po

Manuel Bagues

University of Warwick

Antonio Cabrales

University College London - Department of Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Nagore Iriberri

University of the Basque Country

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Abstract

This paper studies the effect of providing feedback to college students on their position in the grade distribution by using a randomized control experiment. This information was updated every six months during a three-year period. In the absence of treatment, students' underestimate their position in the grade distribution. The treatment significantly improves the students' self-assessment. We find that treated students experience a significant decrease in their educational performance, as measured by their accumulated GPA and number of exams passed, and a significant improvement in their self-reported satisfaction, as measured by survey responses obtained after information is provided but before students take their exams. Those effects, however, are short lived, as students catch up in subsequent periods. Moreover, the negative effect on performance is driven by those students who underestimate their position in the absence of feedback. Those students who overestimate initially their position, if anything, respond positively.

Keywords: relative performance feedback, ranking, randomized field experiment, school performance

JEL Classification: J71, J44

Suggested Citation

Azmat, Ghazala and Bagues, Manuel F. and Cabrales, Antonio and Iriberri, Nagore, What You Don't Know... Can't Hurt You? A Field Experiment on Relative Performance Feedback in Higher Education. IZA Discussion Paper No. 9853, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2757963 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2757963

Ghazala Azmat (Contact Author)

Sciences Po ( email )

27 rue Saint-Guillaume
Paris Cedex 07, 75337
France

Manuel F. Bagues

University of Warwick ( email )

Coventry, CV4 7AL
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/economics/staff/mbagues/

Antonio Cabrales

University College London - Department of Economics ( email )

Drayton House, 30 Gordon Street
30 Gordon Street
London, WC1H 0AX
United Kingdom

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Nagore Iriberri

University of the Basque Country ( email )

Barrio Sarriena s/n
Leioa, Bizkaia 48940
Spain

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