The Impact of Behavioral Nudging in Economic Theory on High School Grading Policies and Student Achievement


  • Alex Parikh-Briggs Menlo-Atherton High School
  • Suraj Nair Oxford University
  • Prakriti Sharma Lumiere Education



Behavioral economics, Neoclassical Economics, Behavioral Nudging, High School Grading, Education Economics, Student Motivation, Standard-Based Grading


This research paper examines the implications of neoclassical economic theory and behavioral economic nudges on high school teachers' grading policies and the motivation and academic achievement of students. I further develop the literature in education economics to investigate various grading policies chosen by teachers and the impact on student motivation and educational outcomes. I highlight teacher preferences which include a traditional grading policy or five-point system, using the letters A-E/F. On the other hand, students prefer grading systems that evaluate what they are learning, allow for effort-based achievement, and consider classroom participation, as opposed to homework and exam scores alone. I examine the benefits and detriments of different grading policies within my high school, Menlo-Atherton High School including traditional grading, standards-based grading (SBG) and pass-fail grading.  First, I review the current literature and analyze the major differences between the approaches of neoclassical versus behavioral economics including nudges. Specifically, I examine factors that contribute to a student’s academic achievement and review the literature on grading. Second, I focus on student behavior and motivation that help to incentivize greater academic achievement. Third, I interview several teachers to characterize their grading policy and overall student motivation.  Last, I compare the student and teacher findings and the associated behavior and motivation. Overall, my findings and analysis appear to support directionally that a new educational policy focused on a standards-based grading (SBG) policy combined with various behavioral nudges impact student decisions, motivate high school students, and improve educational outcomes.


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Author Biography

Suraj Nair, Oxford University


Ph.D. candidate at SOAS London

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How to Cite

Parikh-Briggs, A., Nair, S., & Sharma, P. (2022). The Impact of Behavioral Nudging in Economic Theory on High School Grading Policies and Student Achievement . Journal of Student Research, 11(2).



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