Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research

Volume 24 of the series Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research pp 47-97

The Use of Matching Methods in Higher Education Research: Answering Whether Attendance at a 2-Year Institution Results in Differences in Educational Attainment

  • C. Lockwood ReynoldsAffiliated withDepartment of Economics, College of Business Administration, Kent State University
  • , Stephen L. DesJardinsAffiliated withCenter for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education, School of Education, University of Michigan

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This chapter provides readers with the conceptual and statistical underpinnings of matching methods. These methods have gained in popularity in recent years given the push to make stronger inferential statements about the impact of educational interventions and policies. Given the likelihood of nonrandom assignment into “treatments” in higher education, matching methods seem particularly well suited to apply in many educational research contexts. We demonstrate the use of these methods by examining whether there are differences in educational outcomes depending on whether students begin their postsecondary careers in a 2- or 4-year institution. Our results indicate that estimates of the educational outcomes examined are sensitive to the choice of analytic methods employed. These results provide evidence that remedying nonrandom assignment problems that are often encountered in higher education research is important if we hope to provide accurate information to our colleagues and educational policymakers.