HAL will be down for maintenance from Friday, June 10 at 4pm through Monday, June 13 at 9am. More information
Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Journal articles

What you don’t know... Can’t hurt you? A natural field experiment on relative performance feedback in higher education

Abstract : This paper studies the effect of providing feedback to college students on their position in the grade distribution by using a natural field experiment. This information was updated every six months during a three-year period. We find that greater grades transparency decreases educational performance, as measured by the number of exams passed and GPA. However self-reported satisfaction, as measured by surveys conducted after feedback is provided but before students take their exams, increases. We provide a theoretical framework to understand these results, focusing on the role of prior beliefs, and using out-of-trial surveys to test the model. In the absence of treatment, a majority of students underestimate their position in the grade distribution, suggesting that the updated information is “good news” for many students. Moreover, the negative effect on performance is driven by those students who underestimate their position in the absence of feedback. Students who overestimate initially their position, if anything, respond positively. The performance effects are short lived - by the time students graduate, they have similar accumulated GPA and graduation rates.
Document type :
Journal articles
Complete list of metadata

Contributor : Spire Sciences Po Institutional Repository Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Saturday, February 12, 2022 - 12:14:08 AM
Last modification on : Friday, March 25, 2022 - 3:58:37 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Friday, May 13, 2022 - 6:02:17 PM


Files produced by the author(s)




Ghazala Azmat, Manuel Bagues, Antonio Cabrales, Nagore Iriberri. What you don’t know... Can’t hurt you? A natural field experiment on relative performance feedback in higher education. Management Science, INFORMS, 2018, Forthcoming. ⟨hal-03567414⟩



Record views


Files downloads