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Skipping class in college and exam performance: Evidence from a regression discontinuity classroom experiment


  • Dobkin, Carlos
  • Gil, Ricard
  • Marion, Justin


In this paper we estimate the effect of class attendance on exam performance by implementing a policy in three large economics classes that required students scoring below the median on the midterm exam to attend class. This policy generated a large discontinuity in the rate of post-midterm attendance at the median of the midterm score. We estimate that near the policy threshold, the post-midterm attendance rate was 36 percentage points higher for those students facing compulsory attendance. The discontinuous attendance policy is also associated with a significant difference in performance on the final exam. We estimate that a 10 percentage point increase in a student's overall attendance rate results in a 0.17 standard deviation increase in the final exam score without adversely affecting performance on other classes taken concurrently.

Suggested Citation

  • Dobkin, Carlos & Gil, Ricard & Marion, Justin, 2010. "Skipping class in college and exam performance: Evidence from a regression discontinuity classroom experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 566-575, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:29:y:2010:i:4:p:566-575

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Massimiliano Bratti & Stefano Staffolani, 2013. "Student Time Allocation and Educational Production Functions," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 111-112, pages 103-140.
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    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Blog mentions

    As found by, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Attendance and Grades: Economics of Education Review
      by Liam Delaney in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2010-09-17 19:20:00


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    Cited by:

    1. Aucejo, Esteban & Romano, Teresa, 2014. "Assessing the effect of school days and absenceson test score performance," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 60498, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. Theodore J. Joyce & Sean Crockett & David A. Jaeger & Onur Altindag & Stephen D. O'Connell, 2014. "Does Classroom Time Matter? A Randomized Field Experiment of Hybrid and Traditional Lecture Formats in Economics," NBER Working Papers 20006, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. Adam M. Lavecchia & Heidi Liu & Philip Oreopoulos, 2014. "Behavioral Economics of Education: Progress and Possibilities," NBER Working Papers 20609, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Georgiou, Georgios, 2014. "Does increased post-release supervision of criminal offenders reduce recidivism? Evidence from a statewide quasi-experiment," International Review of Law and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(C), pages 221-243.
    5. Swinton, Omari H., 2010. "The effect of effort grading on learning," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 1176-1182, December.
    6. 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.
    7. Spencer, Nekeisha & Polachek, Solomon & Strobl, Eric, 2016. "How Do Hurricanes Impact Achievement in School? A Caribbean Perspective," IZA Discussion Papers 10169, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    8. repec:bla:ecinqu:v:55:y:2017:i:4:p:1966-1985 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. DesJardins, Stephen L. & McCall, Brian P., 2014. "The impact of the Gates Millennium Scholars Program on college and post-college related choices of high ability, low-income minority students," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 124-138.
    10. Theodore J. Joyce & Sean Crockett & David A. Jaeger & Onur Altindag & Stephen D. O'Connell & Dahlia K. Remler, 2015. "Do Students Know Best? Choice, Classroom Time, and Academic Performance," NBER Working Papers 21656, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. 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.
    12. 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.
    13. Cuffe, Harold E. & Waddell, Glen R. & Bignell, Wesley, 2014. "Too Busy for School? The Effect of Athletic Participation on Absenteeism," IZA Discussion Papers 8426, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. Alejandro Cid & José María Cabrera, 2012. "Joint-Liability vs. Individual Incentives in the Classroom. Lessons from a Field Experiment with Undergraduate Students," Documentos de Trabajo/Working Papers 1206, Facultad de Ciencias Empresariales y Economia. Universidad de Montevideo..
    15. Hoffmann, Anna-Lena & Lerche, Katharina, 2016. "Class attendance and university performance," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 286, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    16. Sam Allgood & William B. Walstad & John J. Siegfried, 2015. "Research on Teaching Economics to Undergraduates," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 53(2), pages 285-325, June.
    17. Cortes Kalena E. & Bricker Jesse & Rohlfs Chris, 2012. "The Role of Specific Subjects in Education Production Functions: Evidence from Morning Classes in Chicago Public High Schools," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 12(1), pages 1-36, June.
    18. Nekeisha Spencer & Solomon Polachek & Eric Strobl, 2016. "How do hurricanes impact scholastic achievement? A Caribbean perspective," Natural Hazards: Journal of the International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, Springer;International Society for the Prevention and Mitigation of Natural Hazards, vol. 84(2), pages 1437-1462, November.
    19. 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.
    20. Franz Buscha & Anna Conte, 2014. "The Impact of Truancy on Educational Attainment during Compulsory Schooling: a Bivariate Ordered Probit Estimator with Mixed Effects," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 82(1), pages 103-127, January.
    21. Jennjou Chen & Tsui-Fang Lin, 2016. "microeconomics courses: Evidence from a regression discontinuity design experiment," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 36(4), pages 2094-2116.
    22. Himmler, Oliver & Jaeckle, Robert & Weinschenk, Philipp, 2017. "Soft Commitments, Reminders and Academic Performance," MPRA Paper 76832, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    23. Aucejo, Esteban M. & Romano, Teresa Foy, 2016. "Assessing the effect of school days and absences on test score performance," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 70-87.


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