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Student Study Choices in the Principles of Economics: A Case Study of Computer Usage


  • Grimes, Paul W.
  • Sanderson, Patricia L.
  • Ching, Geok H.


Principles of Economics students at Mississippi State University were provided the opportunity to use computer assisted instruction (CAI) as a supplemental study activity. Students were free to choose the extent of their computer work. Throughout the course, weekly surveys were conducted to monitor the time each student spent with their textbook, computerized tutorials, workbook, class notes, and study groups. The surveys indicated that only a minority of the students actively pursued CAI. Probit and OLS models were estimated to identify the factors which determined the probability of computer use and the mean weekly time spent in CAI. The results indicated that black students spent significantly less time engaged in CAI but older students spent more time with the computer. Students with greater physical access to computers and students who had taken a formal course in computer operations spent more time each week in CAI. Further, students who highly rated the importance of CAI to their learning were more likely to be computer users and spend more time on task. The impact of CAI on student performance was estimated within the context of a "treatment effects" model which controlled for the self-selection of students into two categories of computer users. The results indicated that CAI did significantly improve end-of-course test performance, holding all else constant. Given the negligible use of CAI, the authors conclude that students failed to perceive the expected return to computer time or were willing to bear the opportunity cost of pursuing other study activities.

Suggested Citation

  • Grimes, Paul W. & Sanderson, Patricia L. & Ching, Geok H., 1996. "Student Study Choices in the Principles of Economics: A Case Study of Computer Usage," MPRA Paper 63265, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:63265

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Maxwell, Nan L & Lopus, Jane S, 1994. "The Lake Wobegon Effect in Student Self-Reported Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(2), pages 201-205, May.
    2. Schmidt, Robert M, 1983. "Who Maximizes What? A Study in Student Time Allocation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(2), pages 23-28, May.
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    More about this item


    Principles of Economics; Computers; CAI; Study Time; College Students; Learning;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • A2 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics
    • A22 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - Undergraduate


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