An experiment on rank feedback using high school students

Last registered on May 11, 2024


Trial Information

General Information

An experiment on rank feedback using high school students
Initial registration date
April 14, 2024

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
April 16, 2024, 3:27 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
May 11, 2024, 8:10 PM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.


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Primary Investigator

University of Technology Sydney

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Beijing Normal University

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
The effect of relative performance feedback, especially ordinal rank feedback, on performance has been broadly discussed in recent decades. However, there are few studies on the relationship between the impacts of providing relative performance feedback and the choice of comparison groups. We conjecture that splitting a large comparison group into multiple smalls can improve the motivational effects of providing rank feedback. We will conduct a field experiment in a high school to test whether giving rank feedback can motivate individuals and whether the motivational effects tend to be enhanced in small reference groups.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Lou, Hanlin and Hui Xu. 2024. "An experiment on rank feedback using high school students." AEA RCT Registry. May 11.
Experimental Details


The basic experimental design requires participants to do a two-stage task consisting of two tests. We randomise participants into one of three conditions:

Control group: No feedback
Participants will not receive any feedback about their performance in Stage1.

Treatment 1: Class rank feedback
We will inform participants of their rank in their classroom after the first test.

Treatment 2: Group rank feedback
We will inform participants of their rank in a small group after the first test.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Participants' scores in each test.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We will ask participants to do a two­-stage task. At each stage, participants will be given a list of 70 English words and asked to remember them. They will be informed of there will be a quiz to test their vocabulary memory.

We will randomly divide participants in three groups. For the participants in the control group, no feedback will be provided. For the participants in the class-rank treatment group, they will be informed of their rank in their classroom. We can interpret the class rank as a measurement of one's relative position in a large comparison group. For the participants in the group-rank treatment group, they will be informed of their rank in a random group. In this case, participants will learn their relative position in a small comparison group. Then, they will be given another poetry list and test.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization by a computer programme.
Randomization Unit
Classroom level
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
42 classes
Sample size: planned number of observations
At least 2000 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
14 classes control, 14 classes class-rank feedback, 14 group-rank feedback.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Beijing Normal University
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number