Improving College Instruction Through Incentives

57 Pages Posted: 3 Apr 2018 Last revised: 20 Apr 2018

See all articles by Andy Brownback

Andy Brownback

University of Arkansas

Sally Sadoff

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Rady School of Management

Date Written: March 27, 2018

Abstract

In a field experiment, we test the impact of performance-based incentives for community college instructors. We estimate that instructor incentives improve student performance on objective course exams by 0.2 standard deviations, increase course grades by 0.1 standard deviations, and reduce course dropout rates by 17%. The largest effects are among part-time adjunct instructors. To test for potential complementarities, we also examine the impact of instructor incentives in conjunction with student incentives and find no evidence that the incentives are more effective in combination. Our instructor incentives are framed as losses and distributed in the form of upfront bonuses that instructors pay back at the end of the semester if they do not meet performance targets. We elicit instructors' contract preferences and find that, at baseline, instructors prefer to work under gain-framed contracts with rewards distributed at the end of the semester. However, after experiencing the loss-framed incentives, instructors significantly increase their preferences for them.

Keywords: college instruction, incentives, loss-framed contract preferences, field experiment

JEL Classification: I23, M52, M55, C93

Suggested Citation

Brownback, Andy and Sadoff, Sally, Improving College Instruction Through Incentives (March 27, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3152028 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3152028

Andy Brownback

University of Arkansas ( email )

Fayetteville, AR 72701
United States

Sally Sadoff (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Rady School of Management ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Rady School of Management
La Jolla, CA 92093
United States

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