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Does Teacher Quality Affect Student Performance? Evidence From An Italian University

  • Maria De Paola

In this paper we analyse whether the characteristics of university teaching staff matter with regards students’ performance and interest in the discipline. We use data on about one thousand students enrolled on the first level degree course in Business and Economics at a medium sized Italian University. Thanks to the random assignment of students to different teaching sections during their first year, we are able to analyze the effect that teachers with different characteristics, in terms of experience and research productivity, produce both on students’ performance, measured in terms of the grades obtained at subsequent exams and courses chosen. Our results suggest that teacher quality has statistically significant effects on students’ grades on subsequent courses. These effects are also robust after controlling for unobserved individual characteristics. On the other hand, we find less clear evidence when relating teacher quality to student involvement with a subject. It emerges that more experienced teachers have a negative impact on the probability of a student’s undertaking additional courses in a subject, while research productivity does not produce a statistically significant effect.

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Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Bulletin of Economic Research.

Volume (Year): 61 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
Pages: 353-377

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Handle: RePEc:bla:buecrs:v:61:y:2009:i:4:p:353-377
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  1. Eric Bettinger & Bridget Terry Long, 2004. "Do College Instructors Matter? The Effects of Adjuncts and Graduate Assistants on Students' Interests and Success," NBER Working Papers 10370, 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. David J. Zimmerman, 2003. "Peer Effects in Academic Outcomes: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(1), pages 9-23, February.
  4. Ronald G. Ehrenberg & Liang Zhang, 2004. "Do Tenured and Tenure-Track Faculty Matter?," NBER Working Papers 10695, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2005. "Principals as Agents: Subjective Performance Measurement in Education," NBER Working Papers 11463, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. George J. Borjas, 2000. "Foreign-Born Teaching Assistants and the Academic Performance of Undergraduates," NBER Working Papers 7635, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Caroline M. Hoxby & Andrew Leigh, 2004. "Pulled Away or Pushed Out? Explaining the Decline of Teacher Aptitude in the United States," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 236-240, May.
  8. Steven G. Rivkin & Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain, 2005. "Teachers, Schools, and Academic Achievement," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 73(2), pages 417-458, 03.
  9. Moulton, Brent R, 1990. "An Illustration of a Pitfall in Estimating the Effects of Aggregate Variables on Micro Unit," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 72(2), pages 334-38, May.
  10. Florian Hoffmann & Philip Oreopoulos, 2009. "Professor Qualities and Student Achievement," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(1), pages 83-92, February.
  11. Jonah E. Rockoff, 2004. "The Impact of Individual Teachers on Student Achievement: Evidence from Panel Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(2), pages 247-252, May.
  12. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2002. "School Choice and School Productivity (or Could School Choice be a Tide that Lifts All Boats?)," NBER Working Papers 8873, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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