What you know can t hurt you (for long): A field experiment on relative feedback performance

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1 What you know can t hurt you (for long): A field experiment on relative feedback performance Ghazala Azmat Manuel Bagues Antonio Cabrales Nagore Iriberri Queen Mary University Aalto University University College London Basque Country University Munich University April / 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

2 Motivation The true motivation: We were frustrated by our inability to persuade business leaders and policymakers to introduce scientific methods to evaluate their policies. But then we thought: How many policies have we evaluated in such way at Carlos III University? We need to lead by example! 2/ 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

3 Motivation Inspired by the results of a natural experiment: Azmat and Iriberri (Journal of Public Economics 2010) The students of a high school in 1990/91 were informed besides their own grades as usual, about the average grade in their cohort and the average in their class. Class grades and university entrance examination improve, for the whole distribution. 3/ 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

4 Our study The aim is to see if those results have external validity at the college level and in an environment with more control. We are also interested in the potential heterogeneity of the effect. 17 groups (1,000 students) belonging to the 2009 cohort are randomly assigned to treatment and control groups. Normally, students receive only information on their own performance. Treatment started to be implemented at the beginning of their second year (November 2010). 4/ 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

5 Our study The treated students receive a message from a corporate account saying: This is part of a pilot project of academic management. If you want to see your average grade, and your relative position in terms of average grade among the students that started the degree the same year you did, you can do it by clicking here: acabrales/proyectomediarank.html And after the login in the Mediarank application they see: 5/ 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

6 Universidad Carlos III de Madrid The university offers several degrees in three different campuses Some degrees offer a Spanish track and an English track Since 2008, Carlos III follows the Spanish version of the Bolonia system Four year degrees Two 14-weeks terms Each week students attend a lecture and a tutorial Subjects in the first and in the second year are compulsory. The third and the fourth year most courses are optional The final grade is a weighted average of the grade obtained in a common final exam (at least 60%), midterm evaluations (about 20%) and group presentations/assignments (up to 20%) 6/ 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

7 Assignment of students Within each year, degree, campus and language, students are typically assigned to different tutorial and lecture groups based on their surname alphabetical order. Figure : Example for 2010, first year, Business Administration, Getafe, Spanish 7/ 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

8 Cohort: 2009 (around 1,000 students) Academic years: 2009/2010 through 2012/2013 Five Degrees: Business, Economics, Finance, Law, and joint degree in Business and Law. Two Campuses: Southern Madrid (Getafe) and Northern Madrid (Colmenarejo) One Language: We only consider students in the Spanish track. 8/ 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

9 Individual characteristics Mean SD Min Max Female Foreigner Vocational training High School Entry grade AGPA Percentile Exams passed Madrid Center Other Region Madrid South Western Madrid Treatment / 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

10 Outcome variables: Exams taken and exams passed May 2010 June 2010 Jan 2011 May 2011 June 2011 Jan 2012 May 2012 June 2012 Jan 2013 May 2013 June 2013 Exams taken Exams passed 10/ 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

11 Outcome variables: Accumulated GPA June 2010 Jan 2011 June 2011 Jan 2012 June 2012 Jan 2013 June / 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

12 Teaching evaluations Mean SD Min Max Satisfaction Hours of study Grading is adequate Notes: The table includes information on the teaching evaluations of 347 groups of students, year / 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

13 Does information provided actually affect what students know? (i) Getafe Colmenarejo Finance and Accounting 1 (2) Economics 1 (3) Business 1 (3) 1 (2) Law 1 (3) Law and Business 1 (2) 1 (2) 13/ 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

14 Does information provided actually affect what students know? (ii) Getafe Colmenarejo Finance and Accounting 36 (95) Economics 47 (234) Business 60 (181) 40 (75) Law 60 (192) Law and Business 50 (99) 61 (101) Total 253 (801) 101 (176) 14/ 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

15 Does information provided actually affect what students know? Does information provided actually affect what students know? Do students actually access the information provided? Who does? How informed are students before the treatment? Survey to cohort 2010, at the beginning of their second year Selected sample: only Economics students How informed are treated (and non treated) students after the treatment? Survey to cohort 2009, at the end of their fourth year Selected sample: only Economics and Business students who were about to graduate 15/ 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

16 Does information provided actually affect what students know? Table : Who checks the ranking? Female 0.106** 0.089** (0.047) (0.045) Acc. GPA 0.122*** (0.021) Courses passed (0.002) Constant 0.665*** (0.034) (0.115) Adj. R N / 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

17 Does information provided actually affect what students know? Survey 2nd year Self-Reported Relative Performance Actual Relative Performance Average error: ; Average absolute error: / 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

18 Does information provided actually affect what students know? Survey 4th year: Treatment group Treatment group Self-Reported Relative Performance Actual Relative Performance Average error: ; Average absolute error: / 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

19 Does information provided actually affect what students know? Survey 4th year: Control group Control group Self-Reported Relative Performance Actual Relative Performance Average error: ; Average absolute error: / 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

20 Academic outcomes Teaching evaluations : Academic outcomes We run the following regression: Y s,d,g,t+i = α + βy s,t + γt reatment d,g + X d λ + ɛ s,d,g,t+i (1) where Y s,d,g,t+i refers to the performance of students s, who is enrolled in degree d and group g, at time t + i. The key identification assumption is that E[T reatment ɛ/x d ] = 0 20/ 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

21 Academic outcomes Teaching evaluations Randomization Table : Randomization Female Entry grade Ac. GPA 2010 Percentile Credits 2010 Treatment * (0.034) (0.056) (0.065) (0.019) (1.108) Adj. R N / 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

22 Academic outcomes Teaching evaluations Exams taken May June Jan May June Jan May June Jan May June / 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

23 Academic outcomes Teaching evaluations Exams passed May June Jan May June Jan May June Jan May June / 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

24 Academic outcomes Teaching evaluations Accumulated Grade Point Average Jul 2010 Feb 2011 Jul 2011 Feb 2012 Jul 2012 Feb 2013 Jul / 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

25 Academic outcomes Teaching evaluations Other academic results: No significant impact on dropout, graduation rates or final accumulated GPA Male students are slightly more affected, but the difference is not significant We observe no significant differential impact either depending on students previous performance 25/ 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

26 Academic outcomes Teaching evaluations : Teaching evaluations We run the following regression: Y d,g,t+i = α + γt reatment d,g + X d λ + ɛ s,d,g,t+i (2) where Y d,g,t+i refers to the satisfaction, hours of study or easiness of the course self-reported by students who were enrolled in degree d and g, at time t + i. The key identification assumption is that E[T reatment Y/X d ] = 0 26/ 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

27 Academic outcomes Teaching evaluations Teaching Evaluations 1st semester 2nd semester Satisfaction Hours of work Easyness Satisfaction Hours of work Easyness Treatment *** (0.095) (0.080) (0.084) (0.109) (0.099) (0.121) Adj. R-squared N / 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

28 Academic outcomes Teaching evaluations Other: We have also analyzed the choice of elective courses No impact in terms of their easiness Placebo regressions using other cohorts As expected, no impact. Analysis using Instrumental Variables (we know who checked!) Coefficients are 30% larger. 28/ 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

29 Summary Students are uninformed about their relative performance. In this case they tend to be underconfident. Providing them feedback on their relative performance has a short term negative impact on their academic performance, but this effect fades away after one year. There is a significant increase in students satisfaction. We observe no significant impact on effort, perceived easiness of courses or on the choice of elective courses. 29/ 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

30 Conclusion The impact of feedback on relative performance may depend crucially on subjects prior information When candidates underestimate their relative performance, providing feedback may have a negative effect on performance Policy implication: if the university wants to maximize students performance, it might be wiser to provide this information when students graduate, but not earlier Suggestions about further research will be quite welcome! 30/ 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

31 Thank you for your attention! 31/ 31 Azmat, Bagues, Cabrales and Iriberri What you know can t hurt you (for long): a field experiment on relative feedback

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