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

  • Fairlie, Robert W.

    ()

    (University of California, Santa Cruz)

  • Grunberg, Samantha H.

    ()

    (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission)

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.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 7764.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp7764
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  1. Robert W. Fairlie & Rebecca A. London, 2012. "The Effects of Home Computers on Educational Outcomes: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Community College Students," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(561), pages 727-753, 06.
  2. Fairlie Robert W, 2004. "Race and the Digital Divide," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 3(1), pages 1-40, September.
  3. Christopher Jepsen & Kenneth Troske & Paul Coomes, 2012. "The labor-market returns to community college degrees, diplomas and certificates," Working Papers 201221 Classification-JEL, Geary Institute, University College Dublin.
  4. Schmitt, John & Wadsworth, Jonathan, 2006. "Is there an impact of household computer ownership on children's educational attainment in Britain?," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 659-673, December.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Robert W. Fairlie & Jonathan Robinson, 2013. "Experimental Evidence on the Effects of Home Computers on Academic Achievement among Schoolchildren," CESifo Working Paper Series 4128, CESifo Group Munich.
  8. 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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  10. Vergara, Sebastián & Grazzi, Matteo, 2011. "ICT access in Latin America. evidence from household level," MPRA Paper 33266, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  11. Hiroshi Ono & Madeline Zavodny, 2002. "Race, Internet usage, and E-commerce," Working Paper 2002-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
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  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Thomas Fuchs & Ludger Wossmann, 2004. "Computers and student learning: bivariate and multivariate evidence on the availability and use of computers at home and at school," Brussels Economic Review, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles, vol. 47(3-4), pages 359-386.
  19. Fairlie, Robert W., 2005. "The effects of home computers on school enrollment," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 24(5), pages 533-547, October.
  20. 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.
  21. 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.
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