Friday, November 6, 2009

Peer effects in learning and teaching, but not in golf

The October '09 issue of the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics contains three papers on peer effects.* The first of these begins "Is an employee's productivity influenced by the productivity of his or her nearby co-workers? The answer to this question is important for the optimal organization of labor...and for the optimal design of incentives." It then goes on to say that it detects no such effects from the random groupings of golfers in professional golf tournaments.

The second paper does find peer effects in random groupings of cadets at West Point, and the third paper finds that students do better when their teachers have better colleagues, i.e. they find that the teachers experience peer effects as measured by the performance of their students.

*The three papers are:

"Peer effects in the workplace: Evidence from random groupings in professional golf tournaments," by Jonathan Guryan, Kory Kroft, and Matthew J. Notowidigdo.

"The Effects of Peer Group Heterogeneity on the Production of Human Capital at West Point," by David S. Lyle.

"Teaching Students and Teaching Each Other: The Importance of Peer Learning for Teachers," by C. Kirabo Jackson and Elias Bruegmann.

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