The influence of class size on student achievement in principles of college economics : a production function approach.

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Cochran, Howard
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Middle Tennessee State University
The primary purpose of this study is to investigate the influence of class size on student achievement in principles of college economics. A sample is selected from the Test for Understanding of College Economics III (TUCE III) database. The TUCE III exams are used to measure student achievement. An educational production function is used to assess the influence of several independent educational inputs on the achievement outcome. Educational inputs are categorized into faculty capital, student capital, course organization and environmental factors.
Several methods are used to model the achievement variable: absolute achievement; absolute improvement; percentage improvement; and gap closing. Class size influence is an independent variable which is modeled as either a direct or indirect influence on achievement. Direct influences include the actual number of students in the class, the natural log of class size and class size squared. Indirect class size influences include: the range of student ability; the standard deviation of ability; minimum and maximum ability scores in a class; average ability; and kurtosis and skewness of ability. Dummy variables for class size ranges also are used in order to reduce the problem of aggregation. Ordinary least squares and Poisson regressions are employed to describe associations between independent and dependent variables.
Several policy implications are suggested by the statistical evidence of this study. First, a class size of 30 students or less will raise mean achievement. Second, managing controllable educational inputs effectively can raise average achievement. Third, class size can be increased, costs reduced and mean achievement raised when educational inputs are optimized. Fourth, an empirical method for evaluating teaching effectiveness relative to national standards is presented. Fifth, some practical suggestions are made for using the results in pay for performance schemes for faculty teaching principles of college economics.
Major Professor: Joachim Zietz.