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Performance Determinants in Undergraduate Economics Classes: The Effect of Cognitive Reflection

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  • Alexei G. Orlov

    () (Radford University)

  • John Roufagalas

    (Radford University)

Abstract

Economics classes claim to develop students' "analytical" abilities and "problem-solving" skills. Assessment of such claims is rather difficult, since it requires measurement of advanced thinking processes. Aptitude tests, such as the SAT, ACT (standardised tests for college admissions in the U.S.), and GRE (a standardised test for post-graduate admissions), purport to provide measures of such processes, but their questions refer to relatively simple thinking processes. Frederick (2005) has developed the "Cognitive Reflection Test" (CRT) to measure human ability to think deeper. The test contains questions whose apparent answers are incorrect and therefore further reflection is needed to arrive at the correct answers. Many economic problems fall into such a category. Our results suggest that CRT scores are higher and have a significant positive effect on exam performance in upper-level economics classes. In these classes, students with the highest CRT score outperform, on average, students with the lowest CRT score by more than half a letter grade, everything else the same.

Suggested Citation

  • Alexei G. Orlov & John Roufagalas, 2012. "Performance Determinants in Undergraduate Economics Classes: The Effect of Cognitive Reflection," International Review of Economic Education, Economics Network, University of Bristol, vol. 11(2), pages 28-45.
  • Handle: RePEc:che:ireepp:v:11:y:2012:i:2:p:28-45
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    3. Shane Frederick, 2005. "Cognitive Reflection and Decision Making," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(4), pages 25-42, Fall.
    4. Arulampalam, Wiji & Naylor, Robin A. & Smith, Jeremy, 2012. "Am I missing something? The effects of absence from class on student performance," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 363-375.
    5. Mary O. Borg & Harriet A. Stranahan, 2002. "Personality Type and Student Performance in Upper-Level Economics Courses: The Importance of Race and Gender," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 33(1), pages 3-14, January.
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    8. Daniel R. Marburger, 2001. "Absenteeism and Undergraduate Exam Performance," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(2), pages 99-109, January.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alexandr Akimov & Sonja Kobinger & Mirela Malin, 2017. "Determinants of student success in finance courses," Discussion Papers in Finance finance:201701, Griffith University, Department of Accounting, Finance and Economics.

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