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TAs Like Me: Racial Interactions between Graduate Teaching Assistants and Undergraduates

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  • Lester Lusher
  • Doug Campbell
  • Scott Carrell

Abstract

Over the past 40 years, higher education institutions in the U.S. have experienced a dramatic shift in the racial composition of students enrolled in both undergraduate and graduate programs. Using administrative data from a large, diverse university in California, we identify the extent to which the academic outcomes of undergraduates are affected by the race/ethnicity of their graduate student teaching assistants (TAs). To overcome selection issues in course taking, we exploit the timing of TA assignments, which occur after students enroll in a course, and we estimate models with both class and student fixed effects. Results show a positive and significant increase in course grades when students are assigned TAs of a similar race/ethnicity. These effects are largest in classes where TAs are given advanced copies of exams and when exams had no multiple choice questions. We also find that assignment to similar race TAs positively affect both section and office hour attendance, suggesting that TA-student match quality and role model effects are the primary drivers of the results.

Suggested Citation

  • Lester Lusher & Doug Campbell & Scott Carrell, 2015. "TAs Like Me: Racial Interactions between Graduate Teaching Assistants and Undergraduates," NBER Working Papers 21568, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21568
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:eee:ecoedu:v:64:y:2018:i:c:p:313-342 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Damgaard, Mette Trier & Nielsen, Helena Skyt, 2018. "Nudging in education," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 313-342.
    3. Lester Lusher, 2016. "College Better: Parimutuel Betting Markets as a Commitment Device and Monetary Incentive," Natural Field Experiments 00561, The Field Experiments Website.
    4. Ellis, Jimmy R. & Gershenson, Seth, 2016. "LATE for the Meeting: Gender, Peer Advising, and College Success," IZA Discussion Papers 9956, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    5. De Paola, Maria & Brunello, Giorgio, 2016. "Education as a Tool for the Economic Integration of Migrants," IZA Discussion Papers 9836, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    6. Kato, Takao & Song, Yang, 2018. "An Advisor like Me: Does Gender Matter?," IZA Discussion Papers 11575, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    7. Wagner, N. & Rieger, M. & Voorvelt, K.J., 2016. "Gender, ethnicity and teaching evaluations : Evidence from mixed teaching teams," ISS Working Papers - General Series 617, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    8. Holt, Stephen B. & Papageorge, Nicholas W., 2016. "Who believes in me? The effect of student–teacher demographic match on teacher expectationsAuthor-Name: Gershenson, Seth," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 209-224.
    9. Rieger, Matthias & Voorvelt, Katherine, 2016. "Gender, ethnicity and teaching evaluations: Evidence from mixed teaching teamsAuthor-Name: Wagner, Natascha," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 79-94.
    10. Susan Payne Carter & Whitney Dudley & David S. Lyle & John Z. Smith, 2016. "Who's the Boss? The Effect of Strong Leadership on Employee Turnover," NBER Working Papers 22383, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I2 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions

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