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The Impact of Question Format in Principle of Economics Classes: Evidence from New Zealand




This study investigates whether question format disadvantages certain types of students. I use assessment data compiled from principles of economics classes at the University of Canterbury from 2002-2008. I combine these with administrative data on student characteristics to create a comprehensive dataset of over 20,000 observations. To control for student ability, I use a battery of measures of student performance in non-economics classes. In the absence of controls for student ability, I find that question format appears to have a significant impact on student performance. These mostly disappear when student ability variables are added. The major exception are student characteristics associated with language: I find that non-native English speakers are relatively disadvantaged by constructed response questions even after controlling for student ability.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen Hickson, 2010. "The Impact of Question Format in Principle of Economics Classes: Evidence from New Zealand," Working Papers in Economics 10/10, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.
  • Handle: RePEc:cbt:econwp:10/10

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bai Juhong & Tim Maloney, 2006. "Ethnicity and academic success at university," New Zealand Economic Papers, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 40(2), pages 181-213.
    2. Andrea L. Ziegert, 2000. "The Role of Personality Temperament and Student Learning in Principles of Economics: Further Evidence," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(4), pages 307-322, December.
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    More about this item


    Principles of Economics Assessment; Multiple Choice; Constructed Response; Free Response; Essay;

    JEL classification:

    • A22 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - Undergraduate


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