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Peer selection and performance - A field experiment in higher education
Last registered on February 27, 2020


Trial Information
General Information
Peer selection and performance - A field experiment in higher education
Initial registration date
December 05, 2018
Last updated
February 27, 2020 2:29 PM EST
Primary Investigator
WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management
PI Affiliation
WZB Berlin
Additional Trial Information
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
We investigate how individuals choose their peers and how endogenous peer selection influences performance. In a field experiment with students of a business school, we vary whether study groups are put together randomly, or whether students can choose their group partner endogenously. With the help of pre-elicited educational performance as well as demographic data, we are able to trace how individuals choose their partner and how these choices influence their group and individual performance during the course. Besides average performance, we analyze how the selection procedure influences the distribution of performance. We measure performance on three consecutive events. The groups' performance is measured by their score on two different tasks during the semester and individual performance is measured by a student's outcome on the final exam. Students only learn about their performance after the final exam. Secondary outcomes of interest are ability beliefs, satisfaction, and social preferences.
This registration belongs to the second wave of the study (the first wave has RCT ID AEARCTR-0002757). The structure of both waves is exactly the same. However, we replaced the second group exercise sheet with a group presentation task with the intention of making cooperation more visible.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Fischer, Mira, Rainer Michael Rilke and Burcin Yurtoglu. 2020. "Peer selection and performance - A field experiment in higher education." AEA RCT Registry. February 27. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.3646-1.1.
Former Citation
Fischer, Mira et al. 2020. "Peer selection and performance - A field experiment in higher education." AEA RCT Registry. February 27. http://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/3646/history/63466.
Experimental Details
Students are randomly assigned to one of two exercise classes. In one class they are randomly matched with a peer. In the other class, matching is endogenous and students choose the peer themselves. In both classes, these groups of two solve the same two exercises together and receive a common grade for each. The first exercise is a written task, the second is a video presentation. Then every student individually writes the same exam. There is no intermediate feedback and students only learn about their performance a few weeks after the exam.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Performance in two exercise sheets (group performance) and the final exam (individual performance) in the subject of microeconomics. We analyze treatment effects both on average performance as well as on the distribution of performance.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The marking is blind, i.e. it will be done by a person not informed about the fact that an experiment took place.
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
ability beliefs, satisfaction, social preferences
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
The experiment's setting is a business school in Germany. All students enrolled in a bachelor's program have to participate in the same microeconomics class during their first semester. The class is taught in three groups: two groups for students in the regular track and one group for students in the international track. Only students in the regular track are part of the experiment. Students do not know that an experiment is taking place.
Students in the regular track are randomly assigned to one of two groups. In one of those groups students are randomly matched with a peer, in the other group matches are formed endogenously. Students have to solve two exercises with their peer during the semester and receive a common grade for each sheet, which each makes up 15% of the final grade. In the end of the semester, each student individually writes an exam which makes up 70% of the final grade. Immediately after the exam, students are asked to fill in a questionnaire that elicits demographic information, ability beliefs, satisfaction and social preferences.
We received permission to run the experiment from the business school's academic director as well as its program manager. None of the institutions we were affiliated with when we started the experiment has an institutional review board.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Students are randomly assigned to an exercise class by a coin flip. Within the random assignment class, students are assigned a peer with the help of a random draw by a spreadsheet program.
Randomization Unit
Students are individually randomized into one of the two exercise classes. Within the exercise class with random peer assignment, students are individually matched with a peer. The type of peer assignment was thus clustered within class.
Was the treatment clustered?
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
2 Classes
Sample size: planned number of observations
In total, we have 200 students (100 groups).
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
102 students (51 groups) in the class with random peer selection, 98 students (49 groups) in the class with endogenous peer selection
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
IRB Name
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Post Trial Information
Study Withdrawal
Is the intervention completed?
Is data collection complete?
Data Publication
Data Publication
Is public data available?
Program Files
Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials
Relevant Paper(s)