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Should you compete or cooperate with your schoolmates?

  • Antonio Filippin
  • Massimiliano Bratti

    (DEAS, University of Milan)

  • Daniele Checchi

    (University of Milan)

Building upon some education studies finding that cooperative behaviour in class yields better achievements among students, this paper presents a simple model showing that free riding incentives lead to an insufficient degree of cooperation between schoolmates, which in turn decreases the overall achievement. A cooperative learning approach may instead emerge when competitive behaviour is negatively evaluated by schoolmates, especially when the class is more homogeneous in terms of students’ characteristics (e.g., ability). Empirical evidence supporting our model is found using the 2003 wave of the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey on students’ literacy levels. A competitive learning approach has a positive individual return (higher in comprehensive educational systems), while student performance increases with the average cooperative behaviour, particularly in tracked educational systems.

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Paper provided by Universitá degli Studi di Milano in its series UNIMI - Research Papers in Economics, Business, and Statistics with number unimi-1074.

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Date of creation: 11 Jul 2008
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Handle: RePEc:bep:unimip:unimi-1074
Note: oai:cdlib1:unimi-1074
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  1. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Wößmann, 2005. "Does Education Tracking Affect Performance and Inequality? Differences-In-Differences Evidence Across Countries," Discussion Papers 04-026, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  2. Wößmann, Ludger, 2003. "Schooling resources, educational institutions and student performance: The international evidence," Munich Reprints in Economics 19661, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
  3. Alberto Alesina & Eliana La Ferrara, 2000. "Participation In Heterogeneous Communities," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 115(3), pages 847-904, August.
  4. Ammermüller Andreas, 2005. "Educational Opportunities and the Role of Institutions," ROA Research Memorandum 004, Maastricht University, Research Centre for Education and the Labour Market (ROA).
  5. Bettinger, Eric & Slonim, Robert, 2007. "Patience among children," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(1-2), pages 343-363, February.
  6. Ammermüller, Andreas, 2005. "Educational Opportunities and the Role of Institutions," ZEW Discussion Papers 05-44, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
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