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Student Time Allocation and Educational Production Functions

Massimiliano Bratti and Stefano Staffolani ()

Annals of Economics and Statistics, 2013, issue 111-112, 103-140

Abstract: In this paper we investigate the effect of lecture attendance and self-study on undergraduate students' academic performance. We first introduce a simple theoretical model in which students decide the optimal allocation of their time between lecture attendance, self-study and leisure. Under some assumptions, we find a positive relationship between lecture attendance and time devoted to self-study in each course, from which we infer that estimates of the elasticity of student performance with respect to attendance which omit time devoted to self-study might be upward biased. We then estimate an academic performance regression using data from first-year undergraduate students of economics in the academic year 1998-99 at the Marche Polytechnic University (Italy) and find evidence that once self-study time is controlled for, the positive effect of lecture attendance on performance generally falls, and becomes statistically insignificant for most courses, except for "quantitative" ones (mathematics and economics). Our findings are important, especially when student performance regressions are used to evaluate the effectiveness of course attendance, and to inform the debate on the introduction of mandatory attendance policies.

Date: 2013
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Working Paper: Student Time Allocation and Educational Production Functions (2002) Downloads
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