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Student Achievement and University Classes: Effects of Attendance, Size, Peers, and Teachers

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Author Info

  • Martins, Pedro S.

    ()
    (Queen Mary, University of London)

  • Walker, Ian

    ()
    (Lancaster University)

Abstract

We examine the empirical determinants of student achievement in higher education, focusing our attention on its small-group teaching component (classes or seminars) and on the role of attendance, number of students per class, peers, and tutors. The empirical analysis is based on longitudinal administrative data from a major undergraduate program where students are allocated to class groups in a systematic way, but one which is plausibly uncorrelated with ability. Although, in simple specifications, we find positive returns to attendance and sizeable differences in the effectiveness of teaching assistants, most effects are not significant in specifications that include student fixed effects. We conclude that unobserved heterogeneity amongst students, even in an institution that imposes rigorous admission criteria and so has little observable heterogeneity, is apparently much more important than observable variation in inputs in explaining student outcomes.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2490.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2490

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Keywords: education production functions; attendance; class size; peer effects;

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References

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  1. Mary A. Burke & Tim R. Sass, 2006. "Classroom Peer Effects and Student Achievement," Working Papers wp2006_02_02, Department of Economics, Florida State University.
  2. 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.
  3. Jacob M. Markman & Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain & Steven G. Rivkin, 2003. "Does peer ability affect student achievement?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(5), pages 527-544.
  4. Alan B. Krueger, 1999. "Experimental Estimates Of Education Production Functions," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 114(2), pages 497-532, May.
  5. Luca Stanca, 2006. "The Effects of Attendance on Academic Performance: Panel Data Evidence for Introductory Microeconomics," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(3), pages 251-266, July.
  6. Gordon Winston & David Zimmerman, 2004. "Peer Effects in Higher Education," NBER Chapters, in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 395-424 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Bruce Sacerdote, 2000. "Peer Effects with Random Assignment: Results for Dartmouth Roommates," NBER Working Papers 7469, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Abowd, J.M. & Kramarz, F. & Margolis, D.N., 1995. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," Cahiers de recherche 9503, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  9. Edward P. Lazear, 1999. "Educational Production," NBER Working Papers 7349, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. Caroline Hoxby, 2000. "Peer Effects in the Classroom: Learning from Gender and Race Variation," NBER Working Papers 7867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2003. "On The Specification and Estimation of The Production Function for Cognitive Achievement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages F3-F33, February.
  12. Evans, William N & Oates, Wallace E & Schwab, Robert M, 1992. "Measuring Peer Group Effects: A Study of Teenage Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 966-91, October.
  13. Durden, Garey C & Ellis, Larry V, 1995. "The Effects of Attendance on Student Learning in Principles of Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 343-46, May.
  14. Peter Arcidiacono & Sean Nicholson, 2002. "Peer Effects in Medical School," NBER Working Papers 9025, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Cited by:
  1. Frederick van der Ploeg & Reinhilde Veugelers, 2007. "Higher Education Reform and the Renewed Lisbon Strategy: Role of Member States and the European Commission," CESifo Working Paper Series 1901, CESifo Group Munich.
  2. Liam Delaney & Colm Harmon & Martin Ryan, 2011. "The Role of Noncognitive Traits in Undergraduate Study Behaviours," Working Papers 201132, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  3. Oriana Bandiera & Valentino Larcinese & Imran Rasul, 2010. "Heterogeneous Class Size Effects: New Evidence from a Panel of University Students," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(549), pages 1365-1398, December.
  4. Stephen L. Ross, 2009. "Social Interactions within Cities: Neighborhood Environments and Peer Relationships," Working papers 2009-31, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
  5. K T Soo, 2009. "Estimating the production function of university students," Working Papers 600466, Lancaster University Management School, Economics Department.
  6. Steven Brint and Allison M. Cantwell, 2011. "ACADEMIC DISCIPLINES AND THE UNDERGRADUATE EXPERIENCE: Rethinking Bok’s “Underachieving Colleges†Thesis," University of California at Berkeley, Center for Studies in Higher Education qt83q89897, Center for Studies in Higher Education, UC Berkeley.

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