Empirical Economics

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 1563–1592 | Cite as

Grades as incentives

  • Darren GrantEmail author
  • William B. Green


This paper examines how grade incentives affect student learning across a variety of courses at two universities, using for identification the discrete rewards offered by the standard A–F letter-grade system. We develop and test five predictions about the provision of study effort and the distribution of numerical course averages in the presence of the thresholds that separate these discrete rewards. Surprisingly, all are rejected in our data. There is no evidence that exam performance is improved for those students that stand to gain the most from additional study.


Educational assessment Thresholds Behavioral incentives 

JEL Classification

I21 A22 D10 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and International BusinessSam Houston State UniversityHuntsvilleUSA

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