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Conference Paper Understanding Society Scientific Conference 2017, 11-13 July 2017, University of Essex, Colchester, UK

It's not how much you work but how. The production function for performance among university students


Publication date

13 Jul 2017


Using an innovative new longitudinal survey of undergraduate students at the University of Essex in the UK, we control for detailed measures of students’ expectations, aspirations and experimentally-elicited cognitive and non-cognitive traits in order to identify the causal effects of different elements of university students’ own study time and of attendance at lectures and classes on their first year academic performance. We show the most productive uses of time change depending on proximity to exams though attendance at both lectures and classes throughout the year has a cumulative effect on end-of-academic-year performance. Controlling for cognitive and non-cognitive traits such as students’ IQ, competitiveness, overconfidence and discount rates also results in substantial changes in measured ethnic, gender and socio-economic gradients in performance.


Psychology, Time Use, Economics, and Higher Education



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