Motivating Low-Achievers—Relative Performance Feedback in Primary Schools

58 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2019 Last revised: 27 Mar 2020

See all articles by Henning Hermes

Henning Hermes

NHH Bergen (FAIR / Department of Economics); Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz

Martin Huschens

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

Franz Rothlauf

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz

Daniel Schunk

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz - Department of Economics

Date Written: March 4, 2020

Abstract

Relative performance feedback (RPF) has often been shown to improve effort and performance in the workplace and educational settings. Yet, many studies also document substantial negative effects of RPF, in particular for low-achievers. We study a novel type of RPF designed to overcome these negative effects of RPF on low-achievers by scoring individual performance improvements. With a sample of 400 children, we conduct a class-wise randomized-controlled trial using an e-learning software in regular teaching lessons in primary schools. We demonstrate that this type of RPF significantly increases motivation, effort, and performance in math for low-achieving children, without hurting high-achieving children. Among low-achievers, those receiving more points and moving up in the ranking improved strongest on motivation and math performance. In an exploratory analysis, we document substantial gender differences in response to this type of RPF: improvements in motivation and learning are much stronger for girls. We argue that using this new type of RPF could potentially reduce inequalities, especially in educational settings.

Keywords: relative performance feedback, rankings, randomized-controlled trial, education, gender differences, inequality

Suggested Citation

Hermes, Henning and Huschens, Martin and Rothlauf, Franz and Schunk, Daniel, Motivating Low-Achievers—Relative Performance Feedback in Primary Schools (March 4, 2020). NHH Dept. of Economics Discussion Paper No. 14, November 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3411429 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3411429

Henning Hermes (Contact Author)

NHH Bergen (FAIR / Department of Economics) ( email )

Helleveien 30
Bergen, NO-5045
Norway

Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz ( email )

Germany

Martin Huschens

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz ( email )

Saarstr. 21
Jakob Welder-Weg 9
Mainz, Rhineland-Palatinate 55128
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://wi.bwl.uni-mainz.de/1377_DEU_HTML.php

Franz Rothlauf

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz ( email )

Saarstrasse 21
Mainz, D-55099
Germany

Daniel Schunk

Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz - Department of Economics ( email )

Germany

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