35,000 Principles of Economics Students: Some Lessons Learned
Kenneth G. Elzinga and
Daniel O. Melaugh ()
Additional contact information Daniel O. Melaugh: Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, Derivatives, Global Market Solutions Group, Eleven Madison Avenue, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10010, USA
The principles of economics course is the most common entry point for economic education and commands more attention among researchers than any other college-level course in the discipline. Over a period of 40 years, the senior author of this paper (K.G.E.) has taught this course to over 35,000 students at the University of Virginia. Using his teaching records, we have compiled a database of unusual size and continuity for a study of this kind. We examine conventional topics, such as the role of gender, race, and year of study, in predicting class performance. We also explore relatively unexamined territory, such as comparisons between ‘‘legacy students,’’ athletes, transfer students, and the general student population. Contrary to earlier findings, we find that math SAT scores are the best predictor of success in the principles course, and, consistent with earlier studies, we find a male grade premium (at the highest grade levels).