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How Do Shocks to Non-Cognitive Skills Affect Test Scores?

  • Behncke, Stefanie

    ()

    (Swiss National Bank)

This paper investigates the extent to which test performance is affected by shocks to non-cognitive skills. 440 students took a low stakes mathematics test. About half of them were exposed to positive affirmation while being given test instructions, whereas the other half served as controls. The students were allocated to 14 tutorials and randomisation was conducted at the tutorial level. Mean comparisons suggest that test scores were raised by the intervention. In particular, students with low maths grades and with self-assessed difficulties in maths gained from the positive affirmation. Results suggest that teachers might increase their students' performance by interventions to their non-cognitive skills. Inference is obtained by four different methods that take into account that randomisation was clustered at the tutorial group level. These methods are evaluated in a Monte Carlo study for data generating processes which resemble actual data. We find that randomisation inference followed by the wild cluster bootstrap have superior size properties compared to conventional approaches.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 4222.

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Length: 32 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp4222
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  1. Cunha, Flavio & Heckman, James J. & Lochner, Lance, 2006. "Interpreting the Evidence on Life Cycle Skill Formation," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  2. Lex Borghans & Angela Lee Duckworth & James J. Heckman & Bas ter Weel, 2008. "The Economics and Psychology of Personality Traits," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 43(4).
  3. Borghans, Lex & Meijers, Huub & ter Weel, Bas, 2006. "The Role of Noncognitive Skills in Explaining Cognitive Test Scores," IZA Discussion Papers 2429, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. James J. Heckman & Jora Stixrud & Sergio Urzua, 2006. "The Effects of Cognitive and Noncognitive Abilities on Labor Market Outcomes and Social Behavior," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 411-482, July.
  5. Doug Miller & A. Colin Cameron & Jonah B. Gelbach, 2006. "Bootstrap-Based Improvements for Inference with Clustered Errors," Working Papers 621, University of California, Davis, Department of Economics.
  6. James J. Heckman & Dimitriy V. Masterov, 2007. "The Productivity Argument for Investing in Young Children," NBER Working Papers 13016, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2004. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 119(1), pages 249-275, February.
  8. James J. Heckman & Jeffrey A. Smith, 1995. "Assessing the Case for Social Experiments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 85-110, Spring.
  9. Moulton, Brent R., 1986. "Random group effects and the precision of regression estimates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 385-397, August.
  10. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
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