Education

Academic effort hindered by peer pressure

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Science  24 Jul 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6246, pp. 393-394
DOI: 10.1126/science.349.6246.393-e

Allowing promising adolescents to keep their academic efforts private could prevent them from reducing their efforts in order to fit in with lower-performing classmates. Bursztyn and Jensen describe a natural experiment showing that effort among the highest performers on a computerized remedial tutoring system diminished after the system began to identify top performers for all users to see. Their field experiment offered free training for a college admissions test to students who took both honors and non-honors classes. If the offer was made during a non-honors class, enrollment was lower if students were told that their decision would be shared with the class, rather than kept private. There was no difference between public and private when offers were made during an honors class.

Quart. J. Econ. 10.1093/qje/qjv021 (2015).

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