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Does relative grading help male students? Evidence from a field experiment in the classroom

Eszter Czibor, Sander Onderstal (), Randolph Sloof () and C. Mirjam van Praag

Economics of Education Review, 2020, vol. 75, issue C

Abstract: We conduct a framed field experiment at a Dutch university to compare student effort provision and exam performance under the two most prevalent evaluation practices: absolute (criterion-referenced) and relative (norm-referenced) grading. We hypothesize that the rank-order tournament created by relative grading will increase effort provision and performance among students with competitive preferences. We use student gender and survey measures (self-reported as well as incentivized) as proxies for competitiveness. Contrary to our expectations, we find no significant impact of relative grading on preparation behavior or exam scores, neither among men nor among students with higher measures of competitiveness. We discuss several potential explanations for this finding, and argue that it is likely attributable to the low value that students in our sample attach to academic excellence.

Keywords: Grade incentives; Competition; Education; Gender; Field experiment (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A22 C93 D03 I21 I23 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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Related works:
Working Paper: Does Relative Grading Help Male Students? Evidence from a Field Experiment in the Classroom (2016) Downloads
Working Paper: Does Relative Grading Help Male Students? Evidence from a Field Experiment in the Classroom (2014) Downloads
Working Paper: Does Relative Grading help Male Students? Evidence from a Field Experiment in the Classroom (2014) Downloads
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:75:y:2020:i:c:s0272775717308038

DOI: 10.1016/j.econedurev.2019.101953

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