IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/ecoedu/v29y2010i6p923-934.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

The role of peers and grades in determining major persistence in the sciences

Author

Listed:
  • Ost, Ben

Abstract

Using longitudinal administrative data from a large elite research university, this paper analyzes the role of peers and grades in determining major persistence in the life and physical sciences. In the physical sciences, analyses using within-course, across-time variation show that ex-ante measures of peer quality in a student's introductory courses has a lasting impact on the probability of persisting in the major. This peer effect exhibits important non-linearities such that weak students benefit from exposure to stronger peers while strong students are not dragged down by weaker peers. In both the physical and the life sciences, I find evidence that students are "pulled away" by their high grades in non-science courses and "pushed out" by their low grades in their major field. In the physical sciences, females are found to be more responsive to grades than males, consistent with psychological theories of stereotype vulnerability.

Suggested Citation

  • Ost, Ben, 2010. "The role of peers and grades in determining major persistence in the sciences," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 923-934, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:29:y:2010:i:6:p:923-934
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272-7757(10)00076-2
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Charles F. Manski, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 531-542.
    3. Ann L. Owen, 2010. "Grades, Gender, and Encouragement: A Regression Discontinuity Analysis," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 41(3), pages 217-234, June.
    4. Scott E. Carrell & Richard L. Fullerton & James E. West, 2009. "Does Your Cohort Matter? Measuring Peer Effects in College Achievement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(3), pages 439-464, July.
    5. Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Peer Effects with Random Assignment: Results for Dartmouth Roommates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 681-704.
    6. Todd Stinebrickner & Ralph Stinebrickner, 2012. "Learning about Academic Ability and the College Dropout Decision," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(4), pages 707-748.
    7. Rask, Kevin & Tiefenthaler, Jill, 2008. "The role of grade sensitivity in explaining the gender imbalance in undergraduate economics," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(6), pages 676-687, December.
    8. Stinebrickner, Ralph & Stinebrickner, Todd R., 2006. "What can be learned about peer effects using college roommates? Evidence from new survey data and students from disadvantaged backgrounds," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 1435-1454.
    9. Han, Li & Li, Tao, 2009. "The gender difference of peer influence in higher education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 129-134, February.
    10. Foster, Gigi, 2006. "It's not your peers, and it's not your friends: Some progress toward understanding the educational peer effect mechanism," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(8-9), pages 1455-1475, September.
    11. Richard Sabot & John Wakeman-Linn, 1991. "Grade Inflation and Course Choice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 159-170, Winter.
    12. Talia Bar & Vrinda Kadiyali & Asaf Zussman, 2009. "Grade Information and Grade Inflation: The Cornell Experiment," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 23(3), pages 93-108, Summer.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Luc Bridet & Margaret Leighton, 2015. "The Major Decision: Labor Market Implications of the Timing of Specialization in College," Discussion Paper Series, Department of Economics 201510, Department of Economics, University of St. Andrews.
    2. David L. Sjoquist & John V. Winters, 2015. "State Merit Aid Programs and College Major: A Focus on STEM," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 33(4), pages 973-1006.
    3. Shulamit Kahn & Donna Ginther, 2017. "Women and STEM," NBER Working Papers 23525, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Hill, Andrew J., 2017. "State affirmative action bans and STEM degree completions," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 31-40.
    5. Ehrenberg, Ronald G., 2010. "Analyzing the factors that influence persistence rates in STEM field, majors: Introduction to the symposium," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(6), pages 888-891, December.
    6. Valerie Bostwick, 2016. "Signaling In Higher Education: The Effect Of Access To Elite Colleges On Choice Of Major," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(3), pages 1383-1401, July.
    7. Fischer, Stefanie, 2017. "The downside of good peers: How classroom composition differentially affects men's and women's STEM persistence," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 211-226.
    8. Valeeva, Dilyara & Poldin, Oleg & Yudkevich, Maria, 2014. "Student’s social ties and the choice of specialization," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 34(2), pages 80-94.
    9. David Sjoquist & John Winters, 2015. "The effect of Georgia’s HOPE scholarship on college major: a focus on STEM," IZA Journal of Labor Economics, Springer;Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit GmbH (IZA), vol. 4(1), pages 1-29, December.
    10. Oosterbeek, Hessel & van Ewijk, Reyn, 2014. "Gender peer effects in university: Evidence from a randomized experiment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 51-63.
    11. Avery, Christopher & Gurantz, Oded & Hurwitz, Michael & Smith, Jonathan, 2016. "Shifting College Majors in Response to Advanced Placement Exam Scores," Working Paper Series rwp16-058, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    12. Winters, John V., 2014. "STEM graduates, human capital externalities, and wages in the U.S," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(C), pages 190-198.
    13. Berardino Cesi & Dimitri Paolini, 2014. "Peer Group and Distance: When Widening University Participation is Better," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 82, pages 110-132, December.
    14. Fricke, Hans & Grogger, Jeff & Steinmayr, Andreas, 2015. "Does Exposure to Economics Bring New Majors to the Field? Evidence from a Natural Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 9003, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    15. Adriana D. Kugler & Catherine H. Tinsley & Olga Ukhaneva, 2017. "Choice of Majors: Are Women Really Different from Men?," NBER Working Papers 23735, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Bottia, Martha Cecilia & Stearns, Elizabeth & Mickelson, Roslyn Arlin & Moller, Stephanie & Valentino, Lauren, 2015. "Growing the roots of STEM majors: Female math and science high school faculty and the participation of students in STEM," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 14-27.
    17. Ficano, Carlena Cochi, 2012. "Peer effects in college academic outcomes – Gender matters!," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(6), pages 1102-1115.
    18. Mouganie, Pierre & Wang, Yaojing, 2017. "High Performing Peers and Female STEM Choices in School," MPRA Paper 81860, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    19. Danilowicz-Gösele, Kamila, 2016. ""A" is the aim?," Center for European, Governance and Economic Development Research Discussion Papers 291, University of Goettingen, Department of Economics.
    20. Nollenberger, Natalia & Rodríguez-Planas, Núria, 2017. "Let the Girls Learn! It is not Only about Math… It's about Gender Social Norms," IZA Discussion Papers 10625, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    21. Pengfei Jia & Tim Maloney, 2014. "Using Predictive Modelling to Identify Students at Risk of Poor University Outcomes," Working Papers 2014-03, Auckland University of Technology, Department of Economics.
    22. Kugler, Adriana & Tinsley, Catherine H. & Ukhaneva, Olga, 2017. "Choice of Majors: Are Women Really Different from Men?," IZA Discussion Papers 10947, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Educational economics Human capital;

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:ecoedu:v:29:y:2010:i:6:p:923-934. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/econedurev .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.