nep-edu New Economics Papers
on Education
Issue of 2021‒08‒16
seven papers chosen by
Nádia Simões
Instituto Universitário de Lisboa

  1. Intergenerational Educational Mobility – The Role of Non-cognitive Skills By Adamecz-Völgyi, Anna; Henderson, Morag; Shure, Nikki
  2. Why East Asian students perform better in mathematics than their peers: An investigation using a machine learning approach By Hanol Lee; Jong-Wha Lee
  3. How Does Reducing the Intensity of Tracking Affect Student Achievement? Evidence from German State Reforms By Marc Piopiunik
  4. Multigenerational Mobility in India By Kundu, Anustup; Sen, Kunal
  5. Choose the school, choose the performance. New evidence on the determinants of student performance in eight European countries By Bonacini, Luca; Brunetti, Irene; Gallo, Giovanni
  6. Does IEB make the grade? Alternative testing methods and Educational outcomes: The case of the IEB in South Africa. By Robert Hill
  7. Family Ties, Geographic Mobility and the Gender Gap in Academic Aspirations By Farré, Lídia; Ortega, Francesc

  1. By: Adamecz-Völgyi, Anna (UCL Institute of Education); Henderson, Morag (UCL Institute of Education); Shure, Nikki (University College London)
    Abstract: While it has been shown that university attendance is strongly predicted by parental education, we know very little about why some potential 'first in family' or first-generation students make it to university and others do not. This paper looks at the role of non-cognitive skills in the university participation of this disadvantaged group in England. We find that conditional on national, high-stakes exam scores and various measures of socioeconomic background, having higher levels of non-cognitive skills, specifically locus of control, academic self-concept, work ethic, and self-esteem, in adolescence is positively related to intergenerational educational mobility to university. Our results indicate that having higher non-cognitive skills helps potential first in family university students to compensate for their relative disadvantage, and they are especially crucial for boys. The most important channel of this relationship seems to be through educational attainment at the end of compulsory schooling.
    Keywords: socioeconomic gaps, intergenerational educational mobility, higher education, non-cognitive skills
    JEL: I24 J24
    Date: 2021–07
  2. By: Hanol Lee; Jong-Wha Lee
    Abstract: Using a machine learning approach, we attempt to identify the school-, student-, and country-related factors that predict East Asian students’ higher PISA mathematics scores compared to their international peers. We identify student- and school-related factors, such as metacognition–assess credibility, mathematics learning time, early childhood education and care, grade repetition, school type and size, class size, and student behavior hindering learning, as important predictors of the higher average mathematics scores of East Asian students. Moreover, country-level factors, such as the proportion of youth not in education, training, or employment and the number of R&D researchers, are also found to have high predicting power. The results also highlight the nonlinear and complex relationships between educational inputs and outcomes.
    Keywords: education, East Asia, machine learning, mathematics test score, PISA
    JEL: C53 C55 I21 J24 O1
    Date: 2021–07
  3. By: Marc Piopiunik
    Abstract: To investigate the effects of reducing the intensity of tracking, this study exploits reforms across German states which combined the two lower secondary school tracks, sometimes additionally offering the possibility to acquire a university entrance qualification. Using a difference-in-differences approach, we find that reducing the tracking intensity significantly improves students’ reading achievement. Lower-performing student groups – boys, students born abroad, and students from lower socio-economic status families – benefited in particular. In contrast, we find no effects on acquiring a middle school degree, attending the most academic track, or repeating a grade.
    Keywords: school tracking, student performance, NEPS
    JEL: I21 I24 I28
    Date: 2021
  4. By: Kundu, Anustup (University of Helsinki); Sen, Kunal (University of Manchester)
    Abstract: Most studies of intergenerational mobility focus on adjacent generations, and there is limited knowledge about multigenerational mobility that is, status transmission across three generations. We examine multigenerational educational and occupational mobility in India, using a nationally representative data-set the India Human Development Survey which contains information about education and occupation for three generations. We find that mobility has increased over generations for education, but not for occupation. We also find that there are stark differences across social groups, with individuals belonging to socially disadvantaged communities in India lagging behind in social progress. Multigenerational mobility for Muslims in education and occupation have decreased in comparison to Hindus over the three generations. While we find that there is an increase in educational mobility for other disadvantaged groups such as Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Other Backward Classes compared to General Castes, we do not find evidence of increased occupational mobility over the three generations.
    Keywords: multigenerational mobility, occupational mobility, educational mobility, India
    JEL: J62 J15 O12
    Date: 2021–07
  5. By: Bonacini, Luca; Brunetti, Irene; Gallo, Giovanni
    Abstract: This study aims to identify the main determinants of student performance in reading and maths across eight European Union countries (Austria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, and Slovenia). Based on student-level data from the OECD’s PISA 2018 survey and by means of the application of efficient algorithms, we highlight that the number of books at home and a variable combining the type and location of their school represent the most important predictors of student performance in all of the analysed countries, while other school characteristics are rarely relevant. Econometric results show that students attending vocational schools perform significantly worse than those in general schools, except in Portugal. Considering only general school students, the differences between big and small cities are not statistically significant, while among students in vocational schools, those in a small city tend to perform better than those in a big city. Through the Gelbach decomposition method, which allows measuring the relative importance of observable characteristics in explaining a gap, we show that the differences in test scores between big and small cities depend on school characteristics, while the differences between general and vocational schools are mainly explained by family social status.
    Keywords: Gelbach decomposition,Education inequalities,Machine learning,PISA,Schooling tracking,Student performance
    JEL: I21 I24 J24
    Date: 2021
  6. By: Robert Hill (Development Policy Research Unit, University of Cape Town)
    Abstract: According to the Independent Examinations Board (IEB, 2015), students who write the IEB National Senior Certificate school-leaving exam are at a distinct advantage and seem to be better prepared for the pressures and challenges faced during their university years than are those students who wrote the Department of Basic Education (DBE) exams. Although the underlying curriculum is no different, the IEB exam is thought to be more challenging and to encourage more critical thinking and deeper engagement with the material than the DBE exam. Thus, this research paper aims to provide a rigorous investigation of whether those students who write the IEB exam at the end of their matric year achieve higher university grades in their first year of study, as well as a decomposition of this effect into a teaching effect and a testing effect. This is done by exploiting within-school variation of examination boards. Given that studies investigating independent school impacts on university performance have predominantly been conducted internationally (McNabb et al., 2002; Ogg et al., 2009; Smith & Naylor, 2001; Smith & Naylor, 2005), this paper will add to the literature in the South African context. By using the techniques of OLS, quantile regression, binary choice probit models and ordered probit models, this paper attempts to provide a holistic view of the effect that the IEB school-leaving examination has on a student’s academic performance at a tertiary level. The data used in this study is also unique, in that it is made up of an amalgamation of student record data obtained from the University of Cape Town (UCT), as well as governmental survey data. This paper finds that the IEB examination has a strong positive effect of between 1.6 and 6.5 percentage points on first-year GPA at UCT, particularly in the Medicine and Engineering faculties. Furthermore, this effect is present, but decreasing across the entirety of the performance distribution. Students with an IEB matric are significantly more likely to achieve a 2nd class pass or higher at the end of their first year of study than are comparable students from Former African schools. When decomposing the IEB effect into a teaching effect and a testing effect, it was found that the majority of the impact of the IEB comes simply from the different exam, and that teaching effects are minimal. A further finding of interest is that the IEB effect seems to be independent of resource availability, and that simply the exposure to the alternative testing method is sufficient for students to see significant improvements in their university performance. These results are robust to changes in functional form, and provide a strong and clear picture that perhaps South Africa should be adopting more of the IEB policies towards teaching and learning on a national scale.
    Keywords: Independent Examinations Board, performance, decomposition
    JEL: I21 I23 I25 I26
    Date: 2019–11
  7. By: Farré, Lídia (University of Barcelona); Ortega, Francesc (Queens College, CUNY)
    Abstract: This paper provides new evidence supporting that gender differences in post-graduate educational choices contribute to the glass ceiling in the labor market. We study the decision to pursue an advanced degree form an internationally renowned institution, which greatly facilitates access to top jobs. Relying on a unique dataset on applications to a highly selective program that provides merit-based graduate fellowships to Spanish students, we show that women apply for the fellowships at lower rates than observationally equivalent male graduates. We also implemented a large-scale survey on current college students and show that female college graduates have stronger family ties than males, which restricts their geographical mobility and has a negative effect on their educational aspirations. Importantly, the previous pattern is reversed in STEM fields: female graduates in STEM participate in the fellowship program at equal or higher rates than comparable males. In fact, we show that female STEM students originate from more educated families, have higher academic ability, and higher educational and earnings aspirations than women in other fields.
    Keywords: gender, post-graduate, fellowships, family ties, geographic mobility
    JEL: J3 J7
    Date: 2021–07

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