Monday, March 24, 2014

Does Classroom Time Matter? A Randomized Field Experiment in Economics

 This study tests whether students in a hybrid format of introductory microeconomics, which met once per week, performed as well as students in a traditional lecture format of the same class, which met twice per week.   The authors randomized 725 students at a large, urban public university into the two formats, and unlike past studies, had a very high participation rate of 96 percent.   Two experienced professors taught one section of each format, and students in both formats had access to the same online materials.   

The results: students in the traditional format scored 2.3 percentage points more on a 100-point scale on the combined midterm and final.  There were no differences between formats in non-cognitive effort (attendance, time spent with online materials) nor in withdrawal from the class.   

Theresults suggest that hybrid classes may offer a cost effective alternative to traditional lectures while having a small impact on student performance.

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