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A Community College Instructor like Me: Race and Ethnicity Interactions in the Classroom

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  • Fairlie, Robert W.
  • Hoffmann, Florian
  • Oreopoulos, Philip

Abstract

This paper uses detailed administrative data from one of the largest community colleges in the United States to quantify the extent to which academic performance depends on students being of similar race or ethnicity to their instructors. To address the concern of endogenous sorting, we use both student and classroom fixed effects and focus on those with limited course enrolment options. We also compare sensitivity in the results from using within versus across section instructor type variation. Given the computational complexity of the 2-way fixed effects model with a large set of fixed effects we rely on numerical algorithms that exploit the particular structure of the model’s normal equations. We find that the performance gap in terms of class dropout and pass rates between white and minority students falls by roughly half when taught by a minority instructor. In models that allow for a full set of ethnic and racial interactions between students and instructors, we find African-American students perform particularly better when taught by African-American instructors.

Suggested Citation

  • Fairlie, Robert W. & Hoffmann, Florian & Oreopoulos, Philip, 2011. "A Community College Instructor like Me: Race and Ethnicity Interactions in the Classroom," CLSSRN working papers clsrn_admin-2011-27, Vancouver School of Economics, revised 27 Oct 2011.
  • Handle: RePEc:ubc:clssrn:clsrn_admin-2011-27
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    File URL: http://www.clsrn.econ.ubc.ca/workingpapers/CLSRN%20Working%20Paper%20no.%2084%20-%20Fairlie,%20Hoffman,%20Oreopoulos.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Higher Education; Student Outcomes and Skills; Teacher and Student Interactions; Economics of Minorities and Races; Discrimination; 2-way Fixed Effect;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • J71 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Discrimination - - - Hiring and Firing

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