Seminar: Learning From Praise: Evidence From A Field Experiment With Teachers

On Tuesday February 18th 2020, Maria Cotofan (EUR) will give a presentation titled: "Learning From Praise: Evidence From A Field Experiment With Teachers"

February 18, 2020
13:00 - 14:00
CPB-office, Bezuidenhoutseweg 30, The Hague (Room 3 - Braamzaal)
Maria Cotofan (EUR)
Cécile Magnée (CPB)
Working language

Non-monetary rewards such as praise are used widespread to increase workplace performance. However, the effects of praise on performance have so far been exclusively assessed in settings where workers perform simple, repetitive tasks. Moreover, studies have only shed light on effects in the short-run. In a field experiment with 900 teachers in 39 schools, I study how repeated public praise for the best teachers impacts their performance, over the course of a year. Teachers in the treatment group who are praised in the first round perform significantly better in subsequent months; teachers who are not praised in the first round perform significantly worse following the intervention. Results are best explained by a mechanism where praise sends a comparative message about relative performance. Updating their beliefs, teachers become more motivated if they receive good news through praise, and become discouraged when the news is bad. The positive effects of unexpected recognition are large and persistent, and reflect real learning gains. The negative effects of unexpected recognition disappear over time.