Class Scheduling and Student Performance in Economics Principles

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Aldaghir, Mohammed Ibrahim
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Middle Tennessee State University
This dissertation consists of three chapters.
In the first chapter titled “Do Morning Classes Improve Student Learning of Microeconomics Principles?”. This article analyzes the impact of class start time on students’ grades by using data from Middle Tennessee State University. The data cover a period of six years and are based on a sample of 5,803 individuals who enrolled in 133 sections of principles of microeconomics. To identify the causal impact of class start time on students’ grades, I used a Bootstrapping method which allowed assigning measures of accuracy to sample estimates. For males, the estimated coefficients were negative and statistically significant at the 10 percent level, and the coefficients suggested that a male student in an afternoon class could expect to earn a letter grade that is 0.029 GPA lower than he would have earned by taking the class in the morning. For females, the estimated coefficients were not statistically significant.
In the second chapter, titled “Does Meeting Once a Week Harm Students' Grades? A Comparison of Outcomes in Economics Classes”. This study of course scheduling, term length, and students’ grades in microeconomics principles is motivated by questions of whether (1) student learning differs across scheduling formats including one, two, and three days per week over traditional semesters; and (2) student learning differs by length of term. The results show that meeting more times a week over a traditional semester leads to higher student achievement. Furthermore, there is no difference in student performance in compressed terms compared to traditional 14-week terms. These results hold after controlling for factors expected to impact student's grades, such as student and class characteristics. The results should interest university administrators who are responsible for course scheduling decisions, faculty who teach different course sections, and students planning their class schedules.
In the third chapter, titled “The Effects of Time Spent Online on Student Achievement in Hybrid Principle of Microeconomics Courses”. We study the determinants of academic achievement in Hybrid courses in principles of microeconomics. We retrieve the real time each student spent on exams and homework from MyEconLab and analyze the impact of that time on students' final grades. Time is a significant determinant of exam scores and final grades; more time spent online is associated with higher scores and grades. An additional hour spent on online exams improves a student’s grade by 0.42 GPA. This could change a student’s grade from a B+ to an A. If a student spends 5 hours more on online homework, it would improve that student’s grade by 0.34 GPA. This could change a student’s grade from a C+ to a B. We also investigated the determinants of the scores on each exam as a function of time spent on the exam and time spent on the homework leading to that exam. A one minute increase in time spent on an online exam improved exam score by 0.79 when using ACT score to control for ability. When using GPA to control for ability; the estimated coefficient on exam time is positive and statistically significant at the 1 percent level; a one minute increase in time spent during an online exam improved exam score by 0.83. Exam scores may be non-linearly related to time spent on an exam.
Class start time, Course scheduling, Economics education, Grades, Instructor fixed effect, Microeconomics