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The effects of class size on student grades at a public university

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Author Info

  • Kokkelenberg, Edward C.
  • Dillon, Michael
  • Christy, Sean M.

Abstract

We model how class size affects the grade higher education students earn and we test the model using an ordinal logit with and without fixed effects on over 760,000 undergraduate observations from a northeastern public university. We find that class size negatively affects grades for a variety of specifications and subsets of the data, as well as for the whole data set from this school. The specifications tested hold constant for academic department, peer effects (relative ability in class), student ability, level of student, level of course, gender, minority status, and other factors. Average grade point declines as class size increases, precipitously up to class sizes of twenty, and more gradually but monotonically through larger class sizes. The evidence is that this is not exclusively a small class effect. We conclude that there are diseconomies of scale associated with a deterioration of student outcomes as class sizes grow larger. The cost of this deterioration is not quantifiable with our data, as much of the costs are non-market costs and unobservable. Future studies of economies of scale in higher education need to address the traditional assumption of constant product quality.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Economics of Education Review.

Volume (Year): 27 (2008)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 221-233

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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:27:y:2008:i:2:p:221-233

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/econedurev

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  1. Alan B. Krueger, 1999. "Experimental Estimates Of Education Production Functions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 497-532, May.
  2. Alan B. Krueger, 2000. "Economic Considerations and class size," Working Papers 975, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Center for Research on Child Wellbeing..
  3. Kennedy, P. & Siegfried, J.J., 1994. "On the Optimality of Unequal Class Sizes," Discussion Papers dp94-13, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
  4. Akerhielm, Karen, 1995. "Does class size matter?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 14(3), pages 229-241, September.
  5. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2000. "The Effects Of Class Size On Student Achievement: New Evidence From Population Variation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(4), pages 1239-1285, November.
  6. Kennedy, P. & Siegfried, J., 1995. "Class Size and Advievement in Introductory Economics: Evidence from the Tuce III Data," Discussion Papers dp95-05, Department of Economics, Simon Fraser University.
  7. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Introduction to "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings"," NBER Chapters, in: Schooling, Experience, and Earnings, pages 1-4 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Jacob A. Mincer, 1974. "Schooling, Experience, and Earnings," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number minc74-1.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Cheng, Dorothy A., 2011. "Effects of class size on alternative educational outcomes across disciplines," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 980-990, October.
  2. CARRIERI, Vincenzo & D'AMATO, Marcello & ZOTTI, Roberto, 2013. "Selective Admission Tests and Students' Performances. Evidence from a Natural Experiment in a Large Italian University," CELPE Working Papers 0/00, CELPE - Centre of Labour Economics and Economic Policy, University of Salerno, Italy.
  3. Amedeo Piolatto, 2010. "Education and selective vouchers," Working Papers 177, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Jan 2010.
  4. Mandel, Philipp & Süssmuth, Bernd, 2011. "Size matters. The relevance and Hicksian surplus of preferred college class size," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1073-1084, October.
  5. Bandiera, Oriana & Larcinese, Valentino & Rasul, Imran, 2009. "Heterogeneous Class Size Effects: New Evidence from a Panel of University Students," IZA Discussion Papers 4496, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Kokkelenberg, Edward C. & Sinha, Esha, 2010. "Who succeeds in STEM studies? An analysis of Binghamton University undergraduate students," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 935-946, December.
  7. Salvador Contreras & Frank Badua & Mitchell Adrian, 2012. "Peer Effects on Undergraduate Business Student Performance," International Review of Economic Education, Economics Network, University of Bristol, vol. 11(1), pages 57-66.
  8. Chingos, Matthew M., 2012. "The impact of a universal class-size reduction policy: Evidence from Florida's statewide mandate," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 543-562.

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