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Student Achievement and University Classes: Effects of Attendance, Size, Peers, and Teachers

  • Martins, Pedro S.

    ()

    (Queen Mary, University of London)

  • Walker, Ian

    ()

    (Lancaster University)

We examine the empirical determinants of student achievement in higher education, focusing our attention on its small-group teaching component (classes or seminars) and on the role of attendance, number of students per class, peers, and tutors. The empirical analysis is based on longitudinal administrative data from a major undergraduate program where students are allocated to class groups in a systematic way, but one which is plausibly uncorrelated with ability. Although, in simple specifications, we find positive returns to attendance and sizeable differences in the effectiveness of teaching assistants, most effects are not significant in specifications that include student fixed effects. We conclude that unobserved heterogeneity amongst students, even in an institution that imposes rigorous admission criteria and so has little observable heterogeneity, is apparently much more important than observable variation in inputs in explaining student outcomes.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 2490.

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Length: 29 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp2490
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  1. Luca Stanca, 2013. "The Effects of Attendance on Academic Performance: Panel Data Evidence for Introductory Microeconomics," Working Papers 78, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Nov 2013.
  2. Mary A. Burke & Tim R. Sass, 2008. "Classroom peer effects and student achievement," Working Papers 08-5, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  3. Manski, Charles F, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 531-42, July.
  4. Durden, Garey C & Ellis, Larry V, 1995. "The Effects of Attendance on Student Learning in Principles of Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(2), pages 343-46, May.
  5. Abowd, J.M. & Kramarz, F. & Margolis, D.N., 1995. "High-Wage Workers and High-Wage Firms," Cahiers de recherche 9503, Centre interuniversitaire de recherche en économie quantitative, CIREQ.
  6. Arcidiacono, Peter & Nicholson, Sean, 2005. "Peer effects in medical school," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(2-3), pages 327-350, February.
  7. Gordon Winston & David Zimmerman, 2004. "Peer Effects in Higher Education," NBER Chapters, in: College Choices: The Economics of Where to Go, When to Go, and How to Pay For It, pages 395-424 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Edward P. Lazear, 2001. "Educational Production," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(3), pages 777-803, August.
  9. Alan Krueger, 1997. "Experimental Estimates of Education Production Functions," Working Papers 758, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  10. Bruce Sacerdote, 2000. "Peer Effects with Random Assignment: Results for Dartmouth Roommates," NBER Working Papers 7469, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Caroline Hoxby, 2000. "Peer Effects in the Classroom: Learning from Gender and Race Variation," NBER Working Papers 7867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2003. "On The Specification and Estimation of The Production Function for Cognitive Achievement," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 113(485), pages F3-F33, February.
  13. Eric A. Hanushek & John F. Kain & Jacob M. Markman & Steven G. Rivkin, 2001. "Does Peer Ability Affect Student Achievement?," NBER Working Papers 8502, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Evans, William N & Oates, Wallace E & Schwab, Robert M, 1992. "Measuring Peer Group Effects: A Study of Teenage Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 966-91, October.
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