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Gender and high frequency vs low frequency tasks in a context of joint-liability incentives

Cid, Alejandro and Bernatzky, Marianne (2014): Gender and high frequency vs low frequency tasks in a context of joint-liability incentives.

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Abstract

We study the impact of high and low frequency incentives in a joint-liability framework on six academic outcomes of undergraduate students using a randomized field experiment. As recently documented in health literature, incentives to exercise are effective in developing healthy habits. Therefore, we design groups of three students and provide a premium to the homework’s grade if all the members of the group (three) meet some requirements. We investigate how the frequency of these take home tests affect the students study habits and thus, the academic outcomes. We find that there are no differences in the student’s educational outcomes between the high and low frequency groups. We also explore if male and female students respond differently to a joint-liability incentives scheme. We find that this treatment improves the accumulated grade average of male students, but not for females. This finding is in line with previous research on joint-liability and gender behavior, but now we present it in a novel context. Finally, the paper outlines the main evaluation challenges associated with a field experiment in the classroom and provide some lessons to improve evaluation designs and to foster future randomized controlled trials in this area.

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