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Determinants of Student Performance and Proficiencies in Economics

Paper Session

Friday, Jan. 3, 2020 8:00 AM - 10:00 AM (PST)

Marriott Marquis, Coronado Room
Hosted By: American Economic Association & Committee on Economic Education
  • Chair: Jens Schubert, University of Delaware

Does Participation and Performance on Advanced Placement Economics Exams Predict Undergraduate Economics Degree Completion?

Laura J. Ahlstrom
,
Oklahoma State University

Abstract

Over the past ten years, there has been a significant increase in the number of high schools offering Advanced Placement (AP) exams as well as an increase in the number of students taking them. A high school student who completes an AP exam in a subject may have a stronger interest in that field relative to their non-AP exam peers and be more likely to choose a major in a related academic field. In addition, students’ participation in and scores on an AP exam in economics may affect their selection of an economics degree. This study uses a series of multinomial logit regressions to assess the effect that participation in and performance on the AP Microeconomics or AP Macroeconomics exams has on the probability of a student graduating with a major or minor in economics. The findings suggest that students who complete only the AP Macroeconomics exam or who take both AP Economics exams are significantly more likely to select an economics major rather than a non-economics degree. Completing at least one of the AP Economics exams is a significant, positive determinant of earning a minor in economics. Moreover, students who earn a high score on the AP Macroeconomics exam have a strong probability of completing either a major or minor in economics, while receiving a high score on the AP Microeconomics exam is a significant and direct indicator of choosing a major in economics.

The Role of Commitment on Effort Provision and Learning Outcomes

David Mahon
,
University of Delaware
Jens Schubert
,
University of Delaware

Abstract

We study the role of commitment contracts in a multi-stage educational field experiment. In the first stage, we elicit students' time preferences in an incentive-compatible dynamic real effort task. In the second stage, we offer students a commitment contract designed to help students overcome their present bias to successfully prepare for academic examinations. Our commitment contract gives students the option to stake their previously earned points should they fail to meet their weekly study goals. Our analysis contrasts students' effort provision and their exam performance between the commitment treatment, control, and two alternative treatments where students either gain or lose points for meeting or failing to meet, respectively, a weekly study goal set by the instructor. We find that few students select the commitment contract, and further that the gain and loss treatments are more powerful than merely offering the commitment device in mitigating the lack of consistent study effort.

Failure, Withdrawals and Retakes in Intermediate Microeconomics

Tisha Lin Nakao Emerson
,
Baylor University
KimMarie McGoldrick
,
University of Richmond

Abstract

Using student transcript data from eight institutions over a 23-year timespan, we investigate enrollments in intermediate microeconomics courses to determine characteristics of successful and unsuccessful students. We then follow the unsuccessful students in order to identify characteristics of students who retake the course and their likelihood of success in a second attempt. We find that aptitude is a strong predictor of success, that underrepresented minorities are less likely to be successful, and that there are no significant differences in likelihood of success by sex. For those students who are not successful in their first attempt at intermediate micro theory, students who have taken intermediate macro theory are more likely to retake micro theory whereas females are less likely to retake. The strongest determinant of success in a retaken micro theory course is the student’s cumulative GPA. We find no evidence that course background, gender or race/ethnicity have a significant impact on performance in the retaken course.

Surveying Hansen’s Data-Related Proficiencies of Undergraduate Economics Students

Diego Méndez-Carbajo
,
Illinois Wesleyan University
Alejandro E. Dellachiesa
,
University of Kentucky
Eric M. McDermott
,
University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign
Yuhao Yang
,
University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign

Abstract

TBD
Discussant(s)
Laurie A. Miller
,
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Paul Grimes
,
Pittsburg State University
Julianna Butler
,
University of Delaware
Cynthia Harter
,
Eastern Kentucky University
JEL Classifications
  • A2 - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics