Measuring Success in Education: The Role of Effort on the Test Itself

64 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2017 Last revised: 4 Aug 2021

See all articles by Uri Gneezy

Uri Gneezy

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

John A. List

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Jeffrey A. Livingston

Bentley University - Department of Economics

Sally Sadoff

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

Xiangdong Qin

Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) - Antai College of Economics and Management

Yang Xu

Peking University - HSBC School of Business

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 2017

Abstract

Tests measuring and comparing educational achievement are an important policy tool. We experimentally show that offering students extrinsic incentives to put forth effort on such achievement tests has differential effects across cultures. Offering incentives to U.S. students, who generally perform poorly on assessments, improved performance substantially. In contrast, Shanghai students, who are top performers on assessments, were not affected by incentives. Our findings suggest that in the absence of extrinsic incentives, ranking countries based on low-stakes assessments is problematic because test scores reflect differences in intrinsic motivation to perform well on the test itself, and not just differences in ability.

Suggested Citation

Gneezy, Uri and List, John A. and Livingston, Jeffrey A. and Sadoff, Sally and Qin, Xiangdong and Xu, Yang, Measuring Success in Education: The Role of Effort on the Test Itself (November 2017). NBER Working Paper No. w24004, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3070028

Uri Gneezy (Contact Author)

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

9500 Gilman Drive
Rady School of Management
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John A. List

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Jeffrey A. Livingston

Bentley University - Department of Economics ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://works.bepress.com/jeffrey_livingston/

Sally Sadoff

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

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

Xiangdong Qin

Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) - Antai College of Economics and Management ( email )

No.535 Fahuazhen Road
Shanghai Jiao Tong University
Shanghai, Shanghai 200052
China

Yang Xu

Peking University - HSBC School of Business ( email )

University Town
Shenzhen, 518055
China

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