Students Are Almost as Effective as Professors in University Teaching

Melbourne Institute Working Paper No. 23/17

Date: September 2017


Jan Feld
Nicolas Salamanca
Ulf Zölitz


Many universities around the world rely on student instructors—current bachelor’s and master’s degree students—for tutorial teaching, yet we know nothing about their effectiveness. In a setting with random assignment of instructors to students, we show that student instructors are almost as effective as senior instructors at improving their students’ short- and longer-run academic achievement and labor market outcomes. We find little heterogeneity across different course types, student characteristics, or instructors’ personal academic quality. Our results suggest that the use of student instructors can serve as an effective tool for universities to reduce their costs with negligible negative effects on students.

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  • Student instructors, university, teacher performance