ERIC Number: ED474478
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2003-Jan
Reference Count: N/A
Peer Effects in Higher Education. Discussion Paper.
Winston, Gordon C.; Zimmerman, David J.
This paper, prepared as a chapter for a forthcoming book, describes the potential significance of student peer effects for the economic structure and behavior of higher education. The existence of student peer effects would motivate much of the restricted supply, student queuing, and selectivity, and institutional competition via merit and honors colleges that are seen in U.S. higher education. The (appropriate) nonlinearity could justify the resulting stratification as an efficient way to produce human capital. The study used data from the College and Beyond entering class of 1989, combined with phonebook data identifying roommates, to implement a quasi-experimental empirical strategy aimed at measuring peer effects in academic outcomes. In particular, the study used data on individual students' grades. Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) scores, and the SAT scores of their roommates at three schools to estimate the effect of roommate's academic characteristics on an individual's grades. The results suggest that, for two of the 3 schools used, students in the middle of the SAT distribution do somewhat worse in terms of grades if they share a room with a student who is in the bottom 15% of the SAT distribution. Students in the top of the SAT distribution appear often not to be affected by the SAT scores of their roommates. These results are similar to those reported in earlier research using data from Williams (D. Zimmerman, 1999) and Dartmouth (B. Sacerdote, 2001). (Contains 11 tables and 45 references.) (Author/SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, New York, NY.
Authoring Institution: Williams Coll., Williamstown, MA.