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Access to Techonology and the Transfer Function of Community Colleges: Evidence from a Field Experiment

  • Fairlie, Robert W.
  • Grunberg, Samantha H.

Access to information may represent an important barrier to learning about and ultimately transferring to 4-year colleges for low-income community college students. This paper explores the role that access to information technology, in particular, plays in enhancing, or possibly detracting from, the transfer function of the community college.  Using data from the first-ever field experiment randomly providing free computers to students, we examine the relationships between access to home computers and enrollment in transferable courses and actual transfers to 4-year colleges.  The results from the field experiment indicate that the treatment group of students receiving free computers has a 4.5 percentage point higher probability of taking transferable courses than the control group of students not receiving free computers. The evidence is less clear for the effects on actual transfers to 4-year colleges and the probability of using a computer to search for college information (which possibly represents one of the mechanisms for positive effects).  In both cases, point estimates are positive, but the confidence intervals are wide.  Finally, power calculations indicate that sample sizes would have to be considerably larger to find statistically significant treatment effects and reasonably precise confidence intervals given the actual transfer rate point estimates. Â

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz in its series Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series with number qt2gw7r2xk.

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Date of creation: 01 Nov 2013
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Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucscec:qt2gw7r2xk
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  1. Robert W. Fairlie & Daniel O. Beltran & Kuntal K. Das, 2010. "HOME COMPUTERS AND EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES: EVIDENCE FROM THE NLSY97 and CPS-super-," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 48(3), pages 771-792, 07.
  2. Ofer Malamud & Cristian Pop-Eleches, 2011. "Home Computer Use and the Development of Human Capital," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 987-1027.
  3. Vergara, Sebastián & Grazzi, Matteo, 2011. "ICT access in Latin America. evidence from household level," MPRA Paper 33266, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  4. Fairlie, Robert, 2014. "The Effects of Home Computers on Educational Outcomes: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Community College Students," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt3sm3c0wp, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  5. Rouse, Cecilia Elena, 1995. "Democratization or Diversion? The Effect of Community Colleges on Educational Attainment," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 217-24, April.
  6. Fairlie, Robert, 2014. "The Effects of Home Computers on School Enrollment," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt82w8v1m8, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  7. Hiroshi Ono & Madeline Zavodny, 2002. "Race, Internet usage, and E-commerce," Working Paper 2002-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  8. Fairlie, Robert W. & Robinson, Jonathan, 2013. "Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Home Computers on Academic Achievement among Schoolchildren," IZA Discussion Papers 7211, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  9. Christopher Jepsen & Kenneth Troske & Paul Coomes, 2014. "The Labor-Market Returns to Community College Degrees, Diplomas, and Certificates," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(1), pages 95 - 121.
  10. Zavodny, Madeline, 2006. "Does watching television rot your mind? Estimates of the effect on test scores," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(5), pages 565-573, October.
  11. John Schmitt & Jonathan Wadsworth, 2004. "Is There an Impact of Household Computer Ownership on Childrens Educational Attainment in Britain?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0625, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  12. Duane E. Leigh & Andrew M. Gill, 2007. "Do Community Colleges Respond to Local Needs? Evidence from California," Books from Upjohn Press, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, number dcc, June.
  13. Hilmer, Michael J., 1997. "Does community college attendance provide a strategic path to a higher quality education?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 16(1), pages 59-68, February.
  14. Randall Lewis & Justin M. Rao & David H. Reiley, 2013. "Measuring the Effects of Advertising: The Digital Frontier," NBER Working Papers 19520, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Leigh, D. E. & Gill, A. M., 2003. "Do community colleges really divert students from earning bachelor's degrees?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 23-30, February.
  16. Fairlie, Robert, 2014. "Race and the Digital Divide," Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt48h8h99w, Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz.
  17. Thomas Fuchs & Ludger Woessmann, 2004. "Computers and Student Learning: Bivariate and Multivariate Evidence on the Availability and Use of Computers at Home and at School," CESifo Working Paper Series 1321, CESifo Group Munich.
  18. Jepsen, Christopher, 2008. "Multinomial probit estimates of college completion at 2-year and 4-year schools," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 98(2), pages 155-160, February.
  19. Fiorini, M., 2010. "The effect of home computer use on children's cognitive and non-cognitive skills," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 29(1), pages 55-72, February.
  20. Jacob L. Vigdor & Helen F. Ladd & Erika Martinez, 2014. "Scaling The Digital Divide: Home Computer Technology And Student Achievement," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(3), pages 1103-1119, 07.
  21. Cecilia Elena Rouse, 1998. "Do two-year colleges increase overall educational attainment? Evidence from the states," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 17(4), pages 595-620.
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