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Students Educating Students: The Emerging Role of Peer Effects in Higher Education

Listed author(s):
  • Goethals, G.
  • Winston, G.
  • Zimmerman, D.

The quality of the education a student gets at a college or university depends both on the school's resources - faculty, facilities, libraries - and importantly on the quality of his or her fellow students. He or she simply learns more - better, faster, more deeply - in the company of able students than with weak ones. Put that way, the proposition seems reasonable, persuasive, and appealing - we can usually get by simply by asserting it. But as we've looked more closely at those "peer effects," we have encountered an increasingly complicated, subtle, and often slippery set of issues: at base, not much is known about peer effects in higher education, despite their potential importance. The purpose of this paper is, in a sense, to describe the structure of our ignorance - what it looks like, why it matters, and what might be done to overcome it - a research agenda.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Williams College in its series Williams Project on the Economics of Higher Education with number DP-50.

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Length: 30 pages
Date of creation: 1999
Handle: RePEc:wil:wilehe:50
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  1. Winston, Gordon C., 1987. "Activity choice : A new approach to economic behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 567-585, December.
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