Monday, October 1, 2012
A study by behavioral economists found that paying students for good test scores actually works
Should Students Get Paid for Test Scores?
In the paper, “The Behavioralist Goes to School: Leveraging Behavioral Economics to Improve Educational Performance,” the authors looked at the test results of more than 7,000 elementary and high school students in the Chicago area. They offered a mix of financial ($10 or $20) and non-financial incentives (a trophy) for improved test performance, and told the students about the rewards right before they took the exam. One of the most powerful findings from the study is that framing a reward as a loss—giving students $20 before an exam, and informing them that they will only get to keep the money if their performance improves—had a more powerful effect than simply handing out the reward after the exam.