Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Go to class
The study of determinants of a college student’s academic performance is an important issue in higher education. Among all factors, whether or not attending lectures affects a student’s exam performance has received considerable attention. In this paper, we conduct a randomized experiment to study the average attendance effect for students who have chosen to attend lectures, which is the so-called the average treatment effect on the treated in program evaluation literature. This effect has long been neglected by researchers when estimating the impact of lecture attendance on students’ academic performance. Under the randomized experiment approach, least squares, fixed effects, and random effects models all yield similar estimates for the average treatment effect on the treated. We find that, class attendance has produced a positive and significant impact on students’ exam performance. On average, attending lecture corresponds to a 7.66% improvement in exam performance.
However, on more "loose" subjects like political science, history, and (to a certain extent) economics, I think going to class would have greater effect on grades. History teachers could choose to teach from a certain viewpoint and present certain facts that the book might not teach, and economics professors could choose to present certain tools or schools of thought that they prefer.
I would be interested in seeing a study like this comparing classes of differing subjects and their respective effects of class attendance.
So, this finding assumes that teacher is equally interesting, which is not true. Some teachers are much better than others. Some are much worse than others.
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