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Peer effects in higher education: A look at heterogeneous impacts

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  • Griffith, Amanda L.
  • Rask, Kevin N.
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    Abstract

    This paper uses data on roommates from two different selective institutions to investigate the effect of peers on first-year performance, with a specific focus on the underlying mechanism. We compare measures of academic ability across student sub-groups by race, income, and gender, and across institutions. Male, minority, and aided students are affected most strongly by their peers. The size and presence of peer effects are dependent on the ability measure used as well as the setting. Standardized estimates suggest ability measured by high school grades have roughly twice the effect of ability measured by SATs. We also test the use of a standardized measure of first-year performance and find more consistent evidence of peer effects across both schools. Our results provide an explanation for the mixed findings in the literature and suggest that the driving force behind peer effects lies in the transfer of general academic know-how rather than in the teaching of specific knowledge or social proximity.

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    Bibliographic Info

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

    Volume (Year): 39 (2014)
    Issue (Month): C ()
    Pages: 65-77

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:39:y:2014:i:c:p:65-77

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

    Related research

    Keywords: Peer effects; Analysis of education;

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    References

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    1. Caroline Hoxby, 2000. "Peer Effects in the Classroom: Learning from Gender and Race Variation," NBER Working Papers 7867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Peer Effects With Random Assignment: Results For Dartmouth Roommates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(2), pages 681-704, May.
    3. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2005. "Social Preferences and the Response to Incentives: Evidence from Personnel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 917-962, August.
    4. Scott E. Carrell & Richard L. Fullerton & James E. West, 2009. "Does Your Cohort Matter? Measuring Peer Effects in College Achievement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(3), pages 439-464, 07.
    5. Jonathan Guryan & Kory Kroft & Matt Notowidigdo, 2007. "Peer Effects in the Workplace: Evidence from Random Groupings in Professional Golf Tournaments," NBER Working Papers 13422, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Christopher Jepsen & Steven Rivkin, 2009. "Class Size Reduction and Student Achievement: The Potential Tradeoff between Teacher Quality and Class Size," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(1).
    7. repec:att:wimass:9127 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Zimmerman, David J., 1999. "Peer Effects in Academic Outcomes: Evidence From a Natural Experiment," Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education DP-52, Department of Economics, Williams College.
    9. Todd R. Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2005. "What Can Be Learned About Peer Effects Using College Roommates? Evidence From New Survey Data and Students from Disadvantaged Backgrounds," University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity Working Papers 20054, University of Western Ontario, CIBC Centre for Human Capital and Productivity.
    10. Mas, Alexandre & Moretti, Enrico, 2006. "Peers at Work," CEPR Discussion Papers 5870, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    11. Foster, Gigi, 2006. "It's not your peers, and it's not your friends: Some progress toward understanding the educational peer effect mechanism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(8-9), pages 1455-1475, September.
    12. George R. Goethals, 2001. "Peer effects, gender and intellectual performance among students at a highly selective college: a social comparison of abilities analysis," Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education DP-61, Department of Economics, Williams College.
    13. Manski, Charles F, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 531-42, July.
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