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

46 Pages Posted: 25 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)

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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.

Keywords: race, education, minorities, college

JEL Classification: I23, I24

Suggested Citation

Fairlie, Robert W. and Hoffmann, Florian and Oreopoulos, Philip, A Community College Instructor Like Me: Race and Ethnicity Interactions in the Classroom. IZA Discussion Paper No. 5983. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1933340

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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