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

63 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2011

See all articles by Robert W. Fairlie

Robert W. Fairlie

University of California, Santa Cruz - Department of Economics

Florian Hoffmann

University of British Columbia (UBC)

Philip Oreopoulos

University of Toronto - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: September 2011

Abstract

Detailed administrative data from a large and diverse community college are used to examine if academic performance depends on whether students are the same race or ethnicity as their instructors. To identify racial interactions and address many threats to internal validity we estimate models that include both student and classroom fixed effects. Given the large sample sizes and computational complexity of the 2-way fixed effects model we rely on numerical algorithms that exploit the particular structure of the model's normal equations. Although we find no evidence of endogenous sorting, we further limit potential biases from sorting by focusing on students with restricted course enrollment options due to low registration priorities, students not getting first section choices, and on courses with no within-term or within-year racial variation in instructors. We find that the performance gap in terms of class dropout rates, pass rates, and grade performance between white and underrepresented minority students falls by 20-50 percent when taught by an underrepresented minority instructor. We also find these interactions affect longer term outcomes such as subsequent course selection, retention, and degree completion. Potential mechanisms for these positive interactions are examined.

Suggested Citation

Fairlie, Robert W. and Hoffmann, Florian and Oreopoulos, Philip, A Community College Instructor Like Me: Race and Ethnicity Interactions in the Classroom (September 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w17381. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1931151

Robert W. Fairlie (Contact Author)

University of California, Santa Cruz - Department of Economics ( email )

Department of Economics
Engineering 2 Bldg.
Santa Cruz, CA 95064
United States
831-459-3332 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://econ.ucsc.edu/~fairlie/

Florian Hoffmann

University of British Columbia (UBC) ( email )

2329 West Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia BC V6T 1Z4
Canada

Philip Oreopoulos

University of Toronto - Department of Economics ( email )

150 St. George Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 3G7
Canada

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR)

180 Dundas Street West, Suite 1400
Toronto, Ontario
Canada

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