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Where class size really matters: Class size and student ratings of instructor effectiveness


  • Bedard, Kelly
  • Kuhn, Peter


We examine the impact of class size on student evaluations of instructor performance using data on all economics classes offered at the University of California, Santa Barbara from Fall 1997 to Spring 2004. A particular strength of this data is the opportunity to control for both instructor and course fixed effects. In contrast to the literature examining class size effects on test-based outcomes--where results can vary considerably across specifications--we find a large, highly significant, and nonlinear negative impact of class size on student evaluations of instructor effectiveness that is highly robust to the inclusion of course and instructor fixed effects.

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  • Bedard, Kelly & Kuhn, Peter, 2008. "Where class size really matters: Class size and student ratings of instructor effectiveness," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(3), pages 253-265, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:27:y:2008:i:3:p:253-265

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kennedy, Peter E. & Siegfried, John J., 1997. "Class size and achievement in introductory economics: Evidence from the TUCE III data," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 16(4), pages 385-394, October.
    2. Siegfried, John J & Kennedy, Peter E, 1995. "Does Pedagogy Vary with Class Size in Introductory Economics?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 347-351, May.
    3. Alan B. Krueger, 2003. "Economic Considerations and Class Size," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages 34-63, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bruce A. Weinberg & Belton M. Fleisher & Masanori Hashimoto, 2007. "Evaluating Methods for Evaluating Instruction: The Case of Higher Education," NBER Working Papers 12844, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Wayne A Grove x & Stephen Wu, 2011. "Factors Influencing Student Performance in Economics: Class and Instructor Characteristics," Chapters,in: International Handbook on Teaching and Learning Economics, chapter 33 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Aurora García-Gallego & Nikolaos Georgantzís & Joan Martín-Montaner & Teodosio Pérez-Amaral, 2015. "(How) Do research and administrative duties affect university professors' teaching?," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 47(45), pages 4868-4883, September.
    4. Beleche, Trinidad & Fairris, David & Marks, Mindy, 2012. "Do course evaluations truly reflect student learning? Evidence from an objectively graded post-test," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 709-719.
    5. Gastón Illanes & Claudio Sapelli, 2012. "Class Size and Teacher Effects in Higher Education," Documentos de Trabajo 418, Instituto de Economia. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile..
    6. Sapelli, Claudio & Illanes, Gastón, 2016. "Class size and teacher effects in higher education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 19-28.
    7. Mandel, Philipp & Süssmuth, Bernd, 2011. "Size matters. The relevance and Hicksian surplus of preferred college class size," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 1073-1084, October.
    8. Cho, Donghun & Baek, Wonyoung & Cho, Joonmo, 2015. "Why do good performing students highly rate their instructors? Evidence from a natural experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(C), pages 172-179.
    9. De Paola, Maria & Scoppa, Vincenzo, 2009. "Effects of Class Size on Achievement of College Students," MPRA Paper 16945, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. CARRIERI, Vincenzo & D'AMATO, Marcello & ZOTTI, Roberto, 2013. "Selective Admission Tests and Students' Performances. Evidence from a Natural Experiment in a Large Italian University," CELPE Working Papers 0/00, CELPE - Centre of Labour Economics and Economic Policy, University of Salerno, Italy.
    11. Cheng, Dorothy A., 2011. "Effects of class size on alternative educational outcomes across disciplines," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(5), pages 980-990, October.
    12. Bastian Gawellek & Bernd Süssmuth & Daniel Singh, 2016. "Tuition Fees and Instructional Quality," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 36(1), pages 84-91.
    13. Barb Bloemhof & John Livernois, 2011. "Making Large Classes Small(er): Assessing the Effectiveness Of a Hybrid Teaching Technology," Working Papers 1111, University of Guelph, Department of Economics and Finance.

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