Students were randomly assigned to two feedback treatment groups and a control group. Students in the within-class feedback group (within) were randomly divided into units of three to four classmates and evaluated as units (using the unit averages) within their respective classes. Students in the within group received feedback about their own performance, the performance of their unit members, and the relative position of their unit within their class. Moreover, they received detailed information about whether they and the position of their unit have improved or worsened from one testing round to the next.
Students in the across-class feedback group (across) were evaluated as a class (using the class average) and were compared to other classes of the same grade in the district. Students in the across group received feedback about their own performance, the average performance of their class, the relative position of their class with respect to other classes, and whether they and/or their class have improved or worsened between two subsequent testing rounds
Students in the control group received no information but only took exams. In order to motivate all students to participate in the experiment, we began our visits reminding students that the exams serve as an additional practice for national leaving examinations (which are compulsory for seventh graders in primary schools and fourth and sixth graders in secondary schools).
In order to study the effects of monetary and non-monetary rewards, students were orthogonally re-randomized at the school level into a tournament for financial or reputational rewards. Re-randomization took place after round 4 and students had no information about tournaments beforehand. The qualification criteria differed based on initial randomization into treatments but the general rule was to reward the 15% best performing students/units/classes, and the 15% most improved students/units/classes. In order to avoid confusion, students were given exact information regarding the number of winning students/units/classes. Therefore, all students, despite the class size or treatment allocation, had the same probability of winning. Students in the monetary reward treatment groups could win 2,000 UGX (about .80 USD). Students in the reputational reward group could receive a certificate and their names were announced in the most popular local newspaper in the region, Bukedde.
Overall, the orthogonal randomization divided the sample into 9 groups – one control group, four sole treatment groups (i.e., one type of treatment only) and four combined treatment groups (two types of feedback interacted with two types of rewards). Such cross-cutting design allows me to compare the impact of feedback and reward incentives on students’ performance expectations and their well-being, and to study the complementarities of feedback and rewards.