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Social Comparison, Rewards and Incentives to Learn: a Randomized Control Trial in Uganda (Center for Institutional Studies Research Seminar)

Speaker: Dagmara Celik (PhD, Research fellow at the CInSt)

Speaker: Dagmara Celik (PhD, Research fellow at the CInSt)

October 9, ThursdayMyasnitskaya 24, building 3, room 424, 18.30. 

Substantial progress has been made in improving access to schooling in developing countries. Nevertheless, higher enrollment needs to be accompanied by advances in education quality in order to avoid stagnation or, at worst, education quality downturn. Large number of interventions has been implemented with the aim to lower absenteeism and improve students’ performance. Recent attention has been paid to enhancing students’ motivation, using both financial and non-financial rewards but little has been said about symbolic rewards. This paper contributes to the discussion threefold. First, it studies the effect of symbolic rewards, such as comparative feedback revealing students’ group performance given in a form of a report card. Students repeatedly facing such comparative feedback improved their performance within an academic year. Second, it allows for the direct comparison of two types of social comparative feedbacks - within and across class group comparisons. The results suggest no significant difference in type of comparison provided. Last, it helps to understand the value added of financial and reputation rewards introduced into social comparison framework. The effects of social comparison treatment become more pronounced once the real rewards are introduced While financial rewards seem to motivate all students with or without social comparison treatment to perform better, reputational rewards have no effect on students’ performance.


Working paper: download