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Home | Events Archive | Learning From Praise: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Teachers

Learning From Praise: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Teachers

  • Location
    Erasmus University, Theil Building, Room C2-6
  • Date and time

    October 09, 2019
    12:00 - 13:00


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 full year. Teachers in the treatment group who are praised in the first round perform significantly better in subsequent months, as compared to similar teachers in the control group. 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 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 praise are large and persistent, and reflect real learning gains. The negative effects disappear over time.