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Compulsory tutorial programmes and performance in undergraduate microeconomics: A regression discontinuity design

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  • Volker Schöer

    ()
    (School of Economic and Business Sciences, University of Witwatersrand)

  • Debra Shepherd

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Stellenbosch)

Abstract

As South African universities experience extremely low graduation rates, academic staff implement a range of interventions, such as tutorial programmes, in order to improve student performance. However, relatively little is known about the impact of such tutorial programmes on students’ performance. Using data from an introductory microeconomics course, this paper investigates the impact of a compulsory tutorial programme on students’ performance in their final examination. Due to the fact that the tutorial programme was only compulsory for students that obtained less than a pass in the first test, while otherwise offered on a voluntary basis, this paper employs a fuzzy regression discontinuity (RD) design to investigate the impact of the tutorial programme on final exam performance. Findings indicate that assignment to the compulsory programme positively affects students’ performance. However, this result is mainly drive by students who already seem to have the ability to perform but, for whatever reason, underperformed in the first test. Thus, while assignment to the tutorial programme itself leads to an improvement in performance, the mechanism is unclear.

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File URL: http://www.ekon.sun.ac.za/wpapers/2013/wp272013/wp-27-2013.pdf
File Function: First version, 2013
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Stellenbosch University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 27/2013.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:sza:wpaper:wpapers203

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Keywords: peer tutoring; compulsory tutorial programme; introductory microeconomics; regression discontinuity design; South Africa;

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  1. Imbens, Guido W & Angrist, Joshua D, 1994. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 62(2), pages 467-75, March.
  2. David S. Lee & Thomas Lemieux, 2009. "Regression Discontinuity Designs in Economics," NBER Working Papers 14723, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Heckman, James J. & Robb, Richard Jr., 1985. "Alternative methods for evaluating the impact of interventions : An overview," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 30(1-2), pages 239-267.
  4. Vincent G. Munley & Eoghan Garvey & Michael J. McConnell, 2010. "The Effectiveness of Peer Tutoring on Student Achievement at the University Level," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 100(2), pages 277-82, May.
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  6. Wilbert van der Klaauw, 2002. "Estimating the Effect of Financial Aid Offers on College Enrollment: A Regression-Discontinuity Approach," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 43(4), pages 1249-1287, November.
  7. Imbens, Guido W. & Lemieux, Thomas, 2008. "Regression discontinuity designs: A guide to practice," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 615-635, February.
  8. Guido Imbens & Karthik Kalyanaraman, 2010. "Optimal bandwidth choice for the regression discontinuity estimator," CeMMAP working papers, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies CWP05/10, Centre for Microdata Methods and Practice, Institute for Fiscal Studies.
  9. McCrary, Justin, 2008. "Manipulation of the running variable in the regression discontinuity design: A density test," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 142(2), pages 698-714, February.
  10. Hahn, Jinyong & Todd, Petra & Van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 2001. "Identification and Estimation of Treatment Effects with a Regression-Discontinuity Design," Econometrica, Econometric Society, Econometric Society, vol. 69(1), pages 201-09, January.
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