ERIC Number: ED475424
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1999-Nov
Reference Count: N/A
Peer Effects in Academic Outcomes: Evidence from a Natural Experiment. Discussion Paper.
Zimmerman, David J.
This study used data from Williams College to implement a quasi-experimental empirical strategy aimed at measuring peer effects in academic outcomes. Data on individual students' grades, Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) scores, and the SAT scores of their roommates were used. The paper makes the case that first-year roommates are assigned randomly with respect to academic ability, which allows the measurement of differences in grades of high, medium, or low SAT students living with high, medium, or low SAT roommates. These estimates should provide compelling estimates of the effect of roommates' academic characteristics on an individual's grades. The effects of peers at somewhat more aggregated levels are also considered, focusing on the effects associated with different"academic environments" in clusters of rooms that define distinct social units. Results suggest that peer effects are almost always linked more strongly with verbal SAT scores than math SAT scores. Students in the middle of the SAT distribution may do somewhat worse in terms of grades if they share a room with a student who is in the bottom 15% of the verbal SAT distribution. Students in the top of the SAT distribution are least affected by SAT scores of their roommates or entry peers. These effects are not large, but are statistically significant in many models. An appendix contains the housing office questionnaire. (Contains 6 tables and 27 references.) (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, New York, NY.
Authoring Institution: Williams Coll., Williamstown, MA.