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The Structure of Peers: The Impact of Peer Networks on Academic Achievement

  • Matias BerthelonEmail author
  • Eric Bettinger
  • Diana I. Kruger
  • Alejandro Montecinos-Pearce
Article

Abstract

Peer effects are an important contributing factor in the learning process. Most of the prior literature on peer effects focuses on the characteristics of peers rather than examining the structure of peer networks. We attempt to measure not only the impact of peers but also the structure of the peer network. In particular we are interested in the characteristics of students’ study groups along several dimensions: quality, heterogeneity, size and cohesion. Using pre-college characteristics of students and a random assignment into sections in their first year, we construct instruments of the study group measures to control for endogeneity of the network formation. Our OLS and IV estimates suggest that peer quality improves student performance, and that the breadth and cohesion of students’ network positively affects student outcomes. We also find significant heterogeneity of the results depending on network characteristics. Our findings can be used to assist university administrators or professors to choose criteria for sorting students into study groups.

Keywords

Study groups Peer effects Academic and social networks Academic performance University College 

Notes

Acknowledgements

Matias Berthelon would like to thank the financial support received from the Learning Center of Teaching Office (Centro Aprendizaje, Direccion de Docencia) at Universidad Adolfo Ibáñez. Diana Kruger would like to thank funding provided by the Center for Studies of Conflict and Social Cohesion (CONICYT/FONDAP/15130009).

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Business SchoolUniversidad Adolfo IbáñezViña del MarChile
  2. 2.Graduate School of EducationStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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