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Ability Peer Effects in University: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment

Listed author(s):
  • Booij, Adam S.

    ()

    (University of Amsterdam)

  • Leuven, Edwin

    ()

    (University of Oslo)

  • Oosterbeek, Hessel

    ()

    (University of Amsterdam)

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.

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp8769.pdf
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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 8769.

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Length: 46 pages
Date of creation: Jan 2015
Publication status: forthcoming in: Review of Economic Studies
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp8769
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  1. Andreas Ammermueller & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 2009. "Peer Effects in European Primary Schools: Evidence from the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(3), pages 315-348, 07.
  2. Sandra E. Black & Paul J. Devereux & Kjell G. Salvanes, 2013. "Under Pressure? The Effect of Peers on Outcomes of Young Adults," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 119-153.
  3. Mary A. Burke & Tim R. Sass, 2013. "Classroom Peer Effects and Student Achievement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 31(1), pages 51-82.
  4. Victor Lavy & M. Daniele Paserman & Analia Schlosser, 2012. "Inside the Black Box of Ability Peer Effects: Evidence from Variation in the Proportion of Low Achievers in the Classroom," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 122(559), pages 208-237, 03.
  5. Russell Davidson & James G. Mackinnon, 1982. "Some Non-Nested Hypothesis Tests and the Relations Among Them," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 49(4), pages 551-565.
  6. Edward L. Glaeser & Bruce I. Sacerdote & Jose A. Scheinkman, 2003. "The Social Multiplier," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(2-3), pages 345-353, 04/05.
  7. 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, vol. 101(5), pages 1739-1774, August.
  8. Scott E. Carrell & Bruce I. Sacerdote & James E. West, 2013. "From Natural Variation to Optimal Policy? The Importance of Endogenous Peer Group Formation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(3), pages 855-882, 05.
  9. Bruce Sacerdote, 2014. "Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Analysis of Peer Effects: Two Steps Forward?," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 6(1), pages 253-272, August.
  10. Giacomo De Giorgi & Michele Pellizzari & William Gui Woolston, 2012. "Class Size And Class Heterogeneity," Journal of the European Economic Association, European Economic Association, vol. 10(4), pages 795-830, 08.
  11. Scott E. Carrell & Richard L. Fullerton & James E. West, 2009. "Does Your Cohort Matter? Measuring Peer Effects in College Achievement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(3), pages 439-464, 07.
  12. Angrist, Joshua D., 2014. "The perils of peer effects," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(C), pages 98-108.
  13. Charles F. Manski, 1993. "Identification of Endogenous Social Effects: The Reflection Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 60(3), pages 531-542.
  14. Bruce Sacerdote, 2001. "Peer Effects with Random Assignment: Results for Dartmouth Roommates," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 116(2), pages 681-704.
  15. Caroline Hoxby, 2000. "Peer Effects in the Classroom: Learning from Gender and Race Variation," NBER Working Papers 7867, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Victor Lavy & Olmo Silva & Felix Weinhardt, 2012. "The Good, the Bad, and the Average: Evidence on Ability Peer Effects in Schools," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 30(2), pages 367-414.
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