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A Community College Instructor Like Me: Race and Ethnicity Interactions in the Classroom

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  • Robert Fairlie
  • Florian Hoffmann
  • Philip Oreopoulos

Abstract

Detailed administrative data from a large and diverse community college are used to examine whether academic performance depends on whether students are the same race or ethnicity as their instructors. To address the concern of endogenous sorting, we focus on students with restricted course enrollment options due to low registration priorities, courses with no within-term or within-year racial variation in instructors, and models that include both student and classroom fixed effects. Given the computational complexity of the 2-way fixed effects model we rely on numerical algorithms that exploit the particular structure of the model’s normal equations. We find that the performance gap in terms of class dropout and pass rates between white and underrepresented minority students falls by roughly half when taught by an underrepresented minority instructor. The racial performance gap in grades is also lower with minority instructors. Results from detailed racial interactions indicate that African-American students perform particularly better when taught by African-American instructors.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17381.

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Date of creation: Sep 2011
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Publication status: published as Fairlie, Robert W., Florian Hoffmann, and Philip Oreopoulos. "A community college instructor like me: Race and ethnicity interactions in the classroom" American Economic Review (forthcoming)
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17381

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  1. Lucia Nixon & Michael Robinson, 1999. "The educational attainment of young women: Role model effects of female high school faculty," Demography, Springer, vol. 36(2), pages 185-194, May.
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  7. Victor Lavy & Analia Schlosser, 2011. "Mechanisms and Impacts of Gender Peer Effects at School," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(2), pages 1-33, April.
  8. Holmlund, Helena & Sund, Krister, 2008. "Is the gender gap in school performance affected by the sex of the teacher," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 37-53, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Karthik Muralidharan & Ketki Sheth, 2013. "Bridging Education Gender Gaps in Developing Countries: The Role of Female Teachers," NBER Working Papers 19341, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Juan Camilo Cárdenas & Hugo Ñopo & Jorge Luis Castañeda, 2012. "Equidad en la Diferencia: Políticas para la Movilidad Social de Grupos de Identidad. Misión de Movilidad Social y Equidad," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 010319, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.

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