Ability Peer Effects in University: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment

46 Pages Posted: 24 Jan 2015

See all articles by Adam S. Booij

Adam S. Booij

Amsterdam School of Economics

Edwin Leuven

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Hessel Oosterbeek

University of Amsterdam - Research Institute in Economics & Econometrics (RESAM); Tinbergen Institute Amsterdam (TIA); Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Abstract

This paper estimates peer effects originating from the ability composition of tutorial groups for undergraduate students in economics. We manipulated the composition of groups to achieve a wide range of support, and assigned students – conditional on their ability – randomly. The data support a specification in which the group composition is captured by the mean and standard deviation of prior ability and their squares and interactions. Estimates from this specification imply that students of low and medium ability gain on average 0.2 SD units of achievement from switching from ability mixing to three-way tracking. Their dropout rate is reduced by 15 percentage points (relative to a mean of 0.6). High-ability students are unaffected. Analysis of survey data indicates that in tracked groups, low-ability students have more positive interactions with other students, and are more involved. We find no evidence that teachers adjust their teaching to the composition of groups.

Keywords: peer effects, tracking, post-secondary education, field experiment

JEL Classification: I22, I28

Suggested Citation

Booij, Adam S. and Leuven, Edwin and Oosterbeek, Hessel, Ability Peer Effects in University: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment. IZA Discussion Paper No. 8769, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2554917

Adam S. Booij (Contact Author)

Amsterdam School of Economics ( email )

Roetersstraat 11
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

Edwin Leuven

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Economics and Business (FEB) ( email )

Roetersstraat 11
Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands
+31 20 525 5241 (Phone)
+31 20 525 4310 (Fax)

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Hessel Oosterbeek

University of Amsterdam - Research Institute in Economics & Econometrics (RESAM) ( email )

Roetersstraat 11
Amsterdam
Netherlands
+31 20 525 4242 (Phone)
+31 20 525 5283 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.fee.uva.nl/scholar/oosterbeek/

Tinbergen Institute Amsterdam (TIA)

Burg. Oudlaan 50
Rotterdam, 3062 PA
Netherlands

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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