Indiana University SPEA Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy University of Pennsylvania AIR American University

Panel Paper: Commitment Failures When Learning Is Online: Experimental Evidence

Saturday, November 14, 2015 : 8:30 AM
Tuttle Center (Hyatt Regency Miami)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Stephen D. O'Connell, City University of New York and Guido Lang, Quinnipiac University
We study whether behavioral interventions can offset demonstrated gaps in learning outcomes between traditional, face-to-face instruction and hybrid learning environments. By randomly assigning whether nearly 300 students would receive personalized e-mail reminders providing them information on their peers' usage and encouraging them to access online learning materials on non-class days, we estimate a causal effect of these reminders of .2 standard deviations in exam performance. From a follow-up survey, we find that students were motivated directly by the reminders to access content and practice material outside the online system, rather than being affected through information provision about peers. These findings highlight the primacy of commitment failures, and that low-cost behavioral interventions can improve student performance in mixed-format classes to a substantial degree.