Student time allocation and educational production functions
In this paper we aim to remedy some shortcomings in the economic literature on university student absenteeism and academic performance. We start by introducing a simple theoretical model in which students decide the optimal allocation of their time between lecture attendance, self-study and leisure. Under some specific assumptions, we find a positive relationship between lecture attendance and time devoted to self-study in each course, from which we infer that estimates of student performance regressions which omit self-study might be biased. Thus, we estimate an academic performance regression using data from first year undergraduate students of economics in the academic year 1998-99 at the University of Ancona (Italy) and find evidence that once self-study time is controlled for, the positive and significant effect of lecture attendance for some courses disappears. This is likely to be important especially when student performance regressions are used to evaluate the effectiveness of course attendance and to inform the debate on the introduction of mandatory attendance on some courses to enhance student performance.
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