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Ability Peer Effects in University: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment

Author

Listed:
  • Booij, Adam S.

    () (University of Amsterdam)

  • Leuven, Edwin

    () (University of Oslo)

  • Oosterbeek, Hessel

    () (University of Amsterdam)

Abstract

This paper estimates peer effects originating from the ability composition of tutorial groups for undergraduate students in economics. We manipulated the composition of groups to achieve a wide range of support, and assigned students – conditional on their ability – randomly. The data support a specification in which the group composition is captured by the mean and standard deviation of prior ability and their squares and interactions. Estimates from this specification imply that students of low and medium ability gain on average 0.2 SD units of achievement from switching from ability mixing to three-way tracking. Their dropout rate is reduced by 15 percentage points (relative to a mean of 0.6). High-ability students are unaffected. Analysis of survey data indicates that in tracked groups, low-ability students have more positive interactions with other students, and are more involved. We find no evidence that teachers adjust their teaching to the composition of groups.

Suggested Citation

  • Booij, Adam S. & Leuven, Edwin & Oosterbeek, Hessel, 2015. "Ability Peer Effects in University: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 8769, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8769
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    11. Esther Duflo & Pascaline Dupas & Michael Kremer, 2011. "Peer Effects, Teacher Incentives, and the Impact of Tracking: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 1739-1774.
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    Cited by:

    1. Holmlund, Helena, 2016. "Education and equality of opportunity: what have we learned from educational reforms?," Working Paper Series 2016:5, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.
    2. Bertoni, Marco & Brunello, Giorgio & Cappellari, Lorenzo, 2017. "Parents, Siblings and Schoolmates: The Effects of Family-School Interactions on Educational Achievement and Long-Term Labor Market Outcomes," IZA Discussion Papers 11200, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Brady, Ryan R. & Insler, Michael A. & Rahman, Ahmed S., 2017. "Bad Company: Understanding negative peer effects in college achievement," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 144-168.
    4. Bart H.H. Golsteyn & Arjan Non & Ulf Zölitz, 2017. "The impact of peer personality on academic achievement," ECON - Working Papers 269, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    5. Michaeli, Moti & Spiro, Daniel, 2015. "Norm conformity across societies," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 51-65.
    6. Holmlund, Helena & Böhlmark, Anders, 2017. "Does grade configuration matter for school performance? Short- and long-run effects of school reorganisation," Working Paper Series 2017:6, IFAU - Institute for Evaluation of Labour Market and Education Policy.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    post-secondary education; tracking; peer effects; field experiment;

    JEL classification:

    • I22 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Educational Finance; Financial Aid
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy

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