Study 1A: The Performance Effect of Providing Real-Time Ranking Feedback

A/Prof. Isabella Dobrescu, A/Prof. Gigi Foster, A/Prof. Alberto Motta, Jie Chen




  1. What is the research study about?

You are invited to take part in this research study.The research study aims to investigate whether providing real-time ranking feedback adds value to your learning experience. You have been invited because you are a first year Economics Student at UNSW, currently completing the ECON1101 course.


  1. Who is conducting this research?

The study is being carried out by the following researchers:A/Prof. Isabella Dobrescu, A/Prof. Gigi Foster, A/Prof. Alberto Motta and Jie Chen, all in the School of Economics, UNSW Business School.

Research Funder: No funding is being received to conduct this research.


  1. Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria

Before you decide to participate in this research study, we need to ensure that it is ok for you to take part. The research study is looking to recruit people who meet the following criteria:

  • UNSW students who are currently completing a degree and are enrolled in ECON1101, and
  • Have a personal computer and are able to access the internet.


  1. Do I have to take part in this research study?

Participation in this research study is voluntary. If you do not want to take part, you do not have to. If you decide to take part and later change your mind, you are free to withdraw from the study at any stage.

If you decide you want to take part in the research study, you will be asked to:

  • Read the information carefully (ask questions if necessary);
  • Decide whether to consent or not regarding your participation in the study;
  • Access this policy via your game and later via your account.


  1. What does participation in this research require, and are there any risks involved?

The leaderboard feature will become available within the first two weeks from when the game goes live. At this time, one of the researchers conducting this study will provide you, during one of your classes, with a verbal explanation of the research study, its study activities and risks and reply any questions until he/she is confident that all prospective participants have understood this explanation.

If you decide to take part in this research study, you will be randomly allocated to one of three groups as follows: 

  • Group A: Local Leaderboard, showing information about those colleagues performing most similarly to you,
  • Group B: General Leaderboard, showing information about a broader range of your colleagues, and
  • Group C: No Leaderboard (Control group).

As mentioned, when you enrol in the study, you will be randomly assigned to one of these 3 groups.

If you will become part of either Group A or Group B you will automatically have access to the corresponding leaderboard features directly via the game that is part of your course material. You may consult the leaderboard as much or as little as you like during the rest of the semester, however we ask you to keep your login details to yourself and not share your access to the game with other students or study participants.

As this is a randomised control trial, not all study participants will have access to leaderboard features during the study period. 

Those allocated to the “No leaderboard” group will not have access to any performance information except their own. Participants are asked to complete their ordinary course work as usual (attendance at lectures and teaching sessions, completion of assessments, and any other self-directed study). 

There are no additional assessments intended to test your knowledge and course performance in addition to those that all the course students – whether participating in this study or not – have to undertake as part of their normal coursework for ECON1101. Feedback about your performance in ECON1101 assessments will be provided by your course coordinator exactly as in the previous semester. There are no additional questionnaires or forms to fill in, as both your course performance and background data will be extracted directly from UNSW’s administrative records. The conclusions of this particular study will be provided via email to any participant who emails the research team within six months from the conclusion of the study.

We ask you not to share details of the performance feedback provided via the (local or general) leaderboards with other participants or other students prior to the conclusion of the study. All information appearing on the leaderboards will be provided to participants at the conclusion of the study (i.e., at the end of the semester).


  1. What are the possible benefits to participation?

We hope to use the information we get from this research study to benefit others who are studying not only Economics but also other subjects at the university.


  1. What will happen to information about me?

By accepting these terms you consent to the research team collecting and using information about you for the research study. Your data will be kept for 7 yearsafter the project’s completion.  We will store information about you in anon-identifiable format as follows:

You will be allocated a unique (random) participant number upon enrolling in the study, which will be used to irrevocably ‘translate’ your student id in an unrecognisable participant indicator. After the data collection, only this participant number will ever be used during the study.

Note that your student id links your study group indicator (A, B, or C) with your engagement and performance in ECON1101 and other courses, as well as with basic demographic information from administrative records. Once the data collection is complete, we will replace this student id with a unique random participant number and finally export the data (with your participant id instead of your student id). ‘Translating’ your student id before exporting the data ensures that you and all your data are virtually impossible to identify by anyone. Indeed, even for the researchers involved in this study it will be impossible to identify you without the ‘id map’ file.

The ‘id map’ file is the file that links you (your student id) to your participant number and will be kept on a double-password protected secure drive in a password-protected computer, located in the locked office of the Chief Investigator, on a floor solely accessible via electronic access cards in UNSW Business School; this will be deleted after the 7 year retention period.  No hard copies of any individual data will ever be kept.

The information you provide or is contained in your administrative data is personal information for the purposes of the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 (NSW). You have the right of access to personal information held about you by the University, the right to request correction and amendment of it, and the right to make a compliant about a breach of the Information Protection Principles as contained in the PPIP Act. Further information on how the University protects personal information is available in the UNSW Privacy Management Plan.


  1. How and when will I find out what the results of the research study are?

The research team intends to publish and/or report the results of the research study in a variety of ways. All information published will be done in a way that will not identify you. If you would like to receive a copy of the results you can let the research team know bysending an email to any of the investigators.  We will only use these details to send you the results of the research. 


  1. What if I want to withdraw from the research study?

If you do consent to participate, you may withdraw at any time. You can do so by completing the ‘Withdrawal of Consent Form’ which is provided at the end of this document. Alternatively you can ring the research team and tell them you no longer want to participate. Your decision not to participate or to withdraw from the study will not affect your relationship with UNSW Sydney. 

If you decide to leave the research study, the researchers will not collect additional information from you. Any identifiable information about you will be withdrawn from the research project. 


  1. What should I do if I have further questions about my involvement in the research study?

The person you may need to contact will depend on the nature of your query. If you require further information regarding this study or if you have any problems, which may be related to your involvement in the study, you can contact the following member/s of the research team:


Research Team Contact Details


Dr. Isabella Dobrescu


Associate Professor of Economics


02 9385 7480



Support Services Contact Details

If at any stage during the study you become distressed or require additional support from someone not involved in the research please call:


UNSW Counselling Service; Kensington Campus


02 9385 5418



What if I have a complaint or any concerns about the research study?

If you have a complaint regarding any aspect of the study or the way it is being conducted, please contact the UNSW Human Ethics Coordinator:


Complaints Contact


UNSW Human Research Ethics Coordinator


02 9385 6222


HC Reference Number





Consent Form – Participant providing own consent

Declaration by the participant

By agreeing to add the leaderboard feature to my game, I confirm that

  • I understand I am being asked to provide consent to participate in this research study;
  • I have read the Participant Information Sheet or someone has read it to me in a language that I understand;
  • I understand the purposes, study tasks and risks of the research described in the study;
  • I provide my consent for the information collected about me to be used for the purpose of this research study only.
  • I have had an opportunity to ask questions and I am satisfied with the answers I have received;
  • I freely agree to participate in this research study as described and understand that I am free to withdraw at any time during the study and withdrawal will not affect my relationship with any of the named organisations and/or research team members;
  • I understand that I can request to be sent a copy of the study results via email, by sending an email to any of the investigators; and
  • I understand that I can access this document online via my account.

If you wish to withdraw from the study, please print and fill in the Withdrawal form below and submit it to the Chief Investigator – see details below


Form for Withdrawal of Participation

I wish to WITHDRAW my consent to participate in this research study described above and understand that such withdrawal WILL NOT affect my relationship with The University of New South Wales. In withdrawing my consent I would like any information, which I have provided for the purpose of this research study withdrawn, with the exception of the information that is necessary to the Course Coordinator to ascertain my completion of and performance in the course I am enrolled in.   

Participant Signature

Name of Participant

 (please print)


Signature of Research Participant






The section for Withdrawal of Participation should be forwarded to:

CI Name:

Dr. Isabella Dobrescu



02 9385 7480

Postal Address:

School of Economics, UNSW Business School, UNSW Sydney Kensington 2052 Australia