Class Size, Learning, and Knowledge Decay

18 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2017

See all articles by Kevin Belanger

Kevin Belanger

Seton Hall University

Angela K. Dills

Western Carolina University

Rey Hernández-Julián

Metropolitan State College of Denver

Kurt W. Rotthoff

Seton Hall University - W. Paul Stillman School of Business

Date Written: March 6, 2017

Abstract

Students may suffer from learning loss between the spring and fall semesters, an experience often called ‘summer learning loss’ or ‘knowledge decay.’ Although many studies examine knowledge decay in K-12, only a few examine college students. This study expands the literature by examining whether varying class sizes aggravate or dampen the loss of knowledge. We utilize a dataset on college students to analyze how class size affects knowledge decay using paired prerequisite and follow-on courses. We find that when a student takes larger prerequisite classes waiting longer to take the follow-on course raises grades. This finding is consistent with the hypothesis that students learn less in larger class sections, leaving them with less knowledge to decay. The analysis also provides novel estimates of the relationship between class size and learning: holding the number of terms between courses constant, students enrolled in larger prerequisite classes earn similar grades in subsequent courses.

Keywords: Knowledge Decay, (Summer) Learning Loss, Class Size

JEL Classification: I23, I21

Suggested Citation

Belanger, Kevin and Dills, Angela K. and Hernandez-Julian, Rey and Rotthoff, Kurt W., Class Size, Learning, and Knowledge Decay (March 6, 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2928459 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2928459

Kevin Belanger

Seton Hall University ( email )

400 S Orange Avenue
South Orange, NJ 07079
United States

Angela K. Dills

Western Carolina University ( email )

Cullowhee, NC 28723
United States
8282273329 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://faculty.wcu.edu/akdills

Rey Hernandez-Julian

Metropolitan State College of Denver ( email )

Student Success Building
890 Auraria Pkwy #310
Denver, CO 80217
United States

Kurt W. Rotthoff (Contact Author)

Seton Hall University - W. Paul Stillman School of Business ( email )

400 S Orange Avenue
JH 674
South Orange, NJ 07079
United States
973-761-9102 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://pirate.shu.edu/~rotthoku/

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