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The Economics of Information in Human Capital Formation - Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments with Low Stakes Tests in Secondary Education

This paper studies the effect of obtaining information about the knowledge expected from students, using regular tests (information efforts) as a substitute for obtaining knowledge via traditional class instruction and homework (knowledge efforts). The effect on student performance is evaluated in two randomized experiments that increase information available to students through digital low stakes tests and feedback. Both were conducted in an 8th grade Biology class among 114 prevocational students in the Netherlands. The results show that educational outcomes are largely improved when information effort in the human capital formation function is increased at the expense of the knowledge effort. Moreover, the results show that tests with extended, personalized feedback are more effective than similar weekly tests with little feedback. This implies that the efficiency of information effort can be further enhanced by incorporating feedback in regular low stakes tests.
JEL-Classification – I20, I21, C93.
Key words – Human Capital Formation; Information; Low Stakes Tests; Randomized Field Experiments; Secondary Education.

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