Date of Degree
Theodore J Joyce
education, experimental, school choice, nudges, incentives
This dissertation consists of three chapters which test interventions along several dimensions of the education production function. In chapter one, I run a field experiment comparing the effect of two interventions, (1) an email nudge telling students similar problems to their homework will be on the exam and (2) grading the homework, on attempting homework. I find both interventions increase homework attempts: nudging by 3 percentage points and grading by 72 percentage points. Instrumenting for the effect of attempting the homework using grading, I find that attempting problems from the homework leads to an increase in the probability of getting similar problems on the exam correct by 3.4 percentage points. Higher than median GPA students are more responsive to both interventions to increase homework attempts, despite spending more time on all other online activities. Evidence suggests, however, that higher and lower than median GPA students are equally productive learners given equal effort. In the second chapter, we use a randomized control design to test whether informing students that we can detect plagiarism reduces cheating. We further test whether informing students that they have been caught cheating reduces subsequent cheating attempts. We find that informing students about our system’s plagiarism detection has little effect on cheating. Further, we find informing students they have been caught cheating reduces subsequent cheating attempts substantially. In the third chapter, we explore a fundamental question for policymakers: whether students of differing preparation levels are affected equally by offers to the same schools. Educational Option programs in NYC make 50\% of their high school offers to students through a screening process and 50\% through lotteries. We use lottery assignment to estimate the effect of school offers for students that just miss screening cutoffs. We use the same lottery process to estimate the effect of the same school offers on less prepared lottery students far away from the cutoff. We find that students are affected similarly by school offers regardless of whether they are close or far away from the cutoff.
Dench, Daniel, "Essays on the Education Production Function" (2020). CUNY Academic Works.