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Risk Preferences, Gpa, And Demographic Factors As Predictors In Student Course Selection

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Title:
Risk Preferences, Gpa, And Demographic Factors As Predictors In Student Course Selection
Series Title:
19th Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium
Creator:
Behrmann, Rachel
Language:
English
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Undetermined

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Center for Undergraduate Research
Center for Undergraduate Research
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Conference papers and proceedings
Poster

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Abstract:
This study describes how course selection varies with risk preferences, GPA, and other demographic factors. Students were recruited through an introductory macroeconomics class for extra credit to take an online survey consisting of a course selection procedure, a 5-trial adjusting probability discounting task, and a demographics survey. When considering the entire analyzed sample, no correlation was found between student course selection and risk preferences, but results did indicate that males may prefer harder courses, and as students increase in year, they tend to prefer easier courses. Results were also evaluated to determine what happens when you separate out individuals who made unusual choices from the rest of the sample. Future studies should attempt to replicate these results and seek to improve how course selection decisions are modeled to better understand the methodology behind these choices. ( en )
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Research authors: Behrmann, Rachel A., Kramer, Dennis A., PhD - University of Florida
General Note:
University Scholars Program
General Note:
Faculty Mentor: This study describes how course selection varies with risk preferences, GPA, and other demographic factors. Students were recruited through an introductory macroeconomics class for extra credit to take an online survey consisting of a course selection procedure, a 5-trial adjusting probability discounting task, and a demographics survey. When considering the entire analyzed sample, no correlation was found between student course selection and risk preferences, but results did indicate that males may prefer harder courses, and as students increase in year, they tend to prefer easier courses. Results were also evaluated to determine what happens when you separate out individuals who made unusual choices from the rest of the sample. Future studies should attempt to replicate these results and seek to improve how course selection decisions are modeled to better understand the methodology behind these choices. - Center for Undergraduate Research, University Scholars Program

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University of Florida
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Copyright Rachel Behrmann. Permission granted to University of Florida to digitize and display this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.

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Risk Preferences, GPA, and Demographic Factors as Predictors in Student Course Selection Rachel Behrmann, 1 Dennis Kramer II 2 1 Department of Economics, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 2 College of Education, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL Methodology Conclusions References Introduction Acknowledgements The value of a college education is not simply the knowledge gained, but often includes the resulting employment outcomes for that individual. It is therefore important that students make course selecting decisions that maximize their skillsets necessary for being successful in the workforce and the job market. T here is very little research on why students select certain courses and it is a highly understudied topic ( Babad 2001; Babad and Tayeb 2003). Studies have shown that, in addition to course quality, other factors come into consideration in the course selection process as well ( Babad 2001). One consideration in particular, ease, impacts course selecting behavior, even though it is not directly related to the quality of the course. Another consideration, then, could be that students select courses according to their risk preferences, and the ease of a course should be relevant in this matter, especially when considering its effect on student GPA. This study aims to examine how course selection varies with risk preferences, GPA, and other demographic factors. We hypothesize that risk averse students will be more likely to take easier courses, for ease and their preferences for quality. A Qualtrics survey was administered to an introductory macroeconomics course for extra credit over a two week period. The survey consisted of three parts: 1. Course selection procedure similar to a study done by Babad and Tayeb (2003), but it modeled course selection options off of information provided by Rate My Professors on ease and quality of the course. 2. 5 trial adjusting probability discounting task measured risk preferences in individuals to determine how risk seeking/averse they were. 3. Demographics collected gender, year in school, age, plans after school (e.g. i ndustry), and GPA. We received 652 responses during the specified period. After not paying attention and did not wish to have their data included, 567 responses remained. Of the remaining participants, approximately 58% were female and the remaining 42% were male. About RateMyProfessors.com. ( n.d. ). Rate My Professors. Retrieved from http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/About.jsp Babad considerations for first and last course. Research in Higher Education, 42 (4), 469 492. Retrieved from JSTOR Journals Babad E., & Tayeb course selection. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 73 (3), 373 393. doi:10.1348/000709903322275894 Cox, D. J., & Dallery J. (2016). Effects of delay and probability combinations on discounting in humans. Behavioral Processes, 131 15 23. doi:10.1016/j.beproc.2016.08.002 The authors would like to thank David Cox, Perihan Saygin PhD, Molly Barlow, and Maria Ripol for their advice, guidance, and assistance during this process. Future Directions In analyzing this data, we ran three regressions to model 1) variables in ease selections, 2) variables in quality selections, and 3) the relationship between selecting for ease and quality. As a robustness check, it was suggested that we run a separate regression on ease and quality selections to account for unusual choices. Results The evidence does not support the hypothesis that student course selection is correlated with risk preferences. In terms of selection for ease, males were more likely to choose harder courses and students tended to increase in their preferences for ease as they increased in year in school. Future studies should attempt to: 1. Replicate these results and 2. Improve modeling the course selection process in order to better understand and study the factors that contribute to course selecting decisions As a measure of risk preferences, h values were assigned based on the last choice in the probability discounting task (Cox and Dallery 2016). This is the course selection procedure students completed. Probability discounting task. After the first question, the probability adjusted up or A dummy variable was interacted with the other variables to see choice was defined to be selecting anything other than the highest quality option for the first course (7.41% of the sample). In these final models, ease and quality preferences were regressed against their h scores (risk preferences), year in school, gender, and future plans (graduate school, industry, or other. Only gender and year (specifically for ease preferences) proved significant in this analysis. Sample Demographics. Distribution of first choice course selections. Regression of ease preferences with quality. Here, preferences for higher quality correlate with easier courses.