NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Goal Setting, Academic Reminders, and College Success: A Large-Scale Field Experiment

Christopher R. Dobronyi, Philip Oreopoulos, Uros Petronijevic

NBER Working Paper No. 23738
Issued in August 2017
NBER Program(s):CH, ED, LS

This paper presents an independent large-scale experimental evaluation of two online goal-setting interventions. Both interventions are based on promising findings from the field of social psychology. Approximately 1,400 first-year undergraduate students at a large Canadian university were randomly assigned to complete one of two online goal-setting treatments or a control task. Additionally, half of treated participants also were offered the opportunity to receive follow-up goal-oriented reminders through e-mail or text messages in an attempt to test a cost-effective method for increasing the saliency of treatment. Across all treatment groups, we observe no evidence of an effect on GPA, course credits, or second year persistence. Our estimates are precise enough to discern a seven percent standardized performance effect at a five percent significance level. Our results hold by subsample, for various outcome variables, and across a number of specifications.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23738

 
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