Type: Seminar

My Professor Cares: Experimental Evidence on the Role of Faculty Engagement


Michal Kurlaender, Professor in Education, University of California, Davis

Date & time

Apr 5, 2017, 8:30-10:00 am EDT


Open to PhD students and faculty engaged in causal inference in education research.

About CIERS:

The objective of the Causal Inference in Education Research Seminar (CIERS) is to engage students and faculty from across the university in conversations around education research using various research methodologies. This seminar provides a space for doctoral students and faculty from the School of Education, Ford School of Public Policy, and the Departments of Economics, Sociology, Statistics, and Political Science to discuss current research and receive feedback on works-in-progress. Discourse between these schools and departments creates a more complete community of education scholars, and provides a networking opportunity for students enrolled in a variety of academic programs who share common research interests. Open to PhD students and faculty engaged in causal inference in education research.


We test the effect of professor feedback on student success in higher education classrooms though a "light-touch" randomized intervention. We present results from both a small pilot in one introductory-level microeconomics course at a comprehensive research university, and the scale-up conducted in over 20 classrooms in a large broad-access university. The intervention consisted of several strategically-timed E-mails to students from the professor indicating keys to success in the class, the professor’s knowledge of the students’ current standing in the course, and a reminder of when the professor is available. Results from the pilot show that students in the treatment group scored higher on exams, homework assignments, and final course grade, compared to students in the control group. Results from the larger experiment at the broad access institution are more mixed, with strong positive effects on final course grade for Latino students (the largest racial/ethnic group on the campus), but not for other groups. In addition, we explore several mechanisms, including increased time spent on homework assignments (pilot) and a lower likelihood of dropout/failure and increased sense of support from the professor (scale-up).