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Spanish Economic Association

An Investigation of Assignment Frequency and Student Performance

Abdullah Al-Bahrani

Maria Apostolova-Mihaylova 

Emily C. Marshall


Our goal is to examine the potential for increased student learning and retention through more frequent assignments. We conducted a field experiment that investigated whether student knowledge retention can be improved by increasing the frequency of assignments, motivating students to have more exposure to the material, and reducing the incentives for students to procrastinate. At two institutions, one instructor was assigned two sections of the same course, where the treatment section was assigned homework every week and the control section was assigned homework every two weeks. We find that the impact of the treatment on student performance varies based on the student’s past academic performance. Students with lower GPA’s benefit from the structure imposed by more frequent assignments and perform better on the final exam in the treatment class compared to the control group. Our results have implications for instructors designing courses with a homework component and provides an opportunity for the course structure to benefit students with weaker academic records.