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Compulsory tutorial programmes and performance in undergraduate microeconomics: A regression discontinuity design

Schöer, Volker and Shepherd, Debra (2013): Compulsory tutorial programmes and performance in undergraduate microeconomics: A regression discontinuity design.

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Abstract

As South African universities experience extremely low graduation rates, academic staff implement a range of interventions, for instance tutorial programmes, in order to improve student performance. However, relatively little is known about the impact of such tutorial programmes on students’ performance. Using data from an introductory microeconomics course, this paper investigates the impact of a compulsory tutorial programme on students’ performance in their final examination. Due to the fact that the tutorial programme was only compulsory for students that obtained less than a pass in the first test, while otherwise offered on a voluntary basis, this paper employs a fuzzy RD design to investigate the impact of the tutorial programme on final exam performance. Findings indicate that assignment to the compulsory programme positively affects students’ performance. However, this result is mainly driven by students who already seem to have the ability to perform but, for whatever reason, underperformed in the first test. Thus, while assignment to the tutorial programme itself leads to an improvement in performance, the mechanism is unclear.

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