10 July 2008

Teachers vs Peers

I've been meaning to post this little tidbit for a while now. It was presented to us at the UT Econ department this spring, and is quite appropriate now that I have been assigned to be an instructor at the Air Force Academy next fall.

In a study conducted by USAFA Ecnomists including the famed Col Fullerton, and an Economist at UC Davis (who previously was an officer instructor at USAFA), it was determined that the "effect that close-knit peer groups" (USAFA Squadrons) is double "the effect of the quality of instructors" on cadets' academic success.
Moreover, it was found that the best predictor of the quality of peer-group quality was their SAT verbal scores.

What is this information good for? Well, i believe the economics department was charged with configuring the optimal squadron groupings for incoming freshmen. So, it depends. If the academy favored having some extremely successful cadets and some really lousy cadets, they would cluster high SAT verbal students together. If the academy favored having a cadet class with great equality (low variation in academic success), then they would make sure to spread the SAT verbal talent around uniformly.

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