The Determinants of Success in University Introductory Economics Courses

Gordon Anderson
Dwayne Benamin
Melvyn Fuss


This article is concerned with the factors that determine a student's success in introductory university economics courses. The central focus of our research was the extent to which it is possible to predict success in these university courses based on information about prior achievement and background, as indicated by the student's record in the final year of high school. Although there is, of course, intrinsic interest in the determinants of success in postsecondary school education, several other issues led us to consider this research topic. Considerable resources are involved in the provision of first-year economics courses at a large university, both for the demanders and suppliers of such a service. For students, wasted time is associated with the unsatisfactory experiences of noncompletion, failure, or insufficiently high grades to proceed to further study of economics.



The central focus of our research was on the ability to predict success with
information on prior achievement and background as indicated by high school
dent had obtained a grade of 76 percent (a "middle B") or higher.'
The one counter-intuitive result related to English. The negative coefficient for
the English grade implies that the better one does in English, the worse one will
do in ECO 100, and this effect occurred at virtually all levels of the English
was the gender effect.
Males were less likely to drop ECO 100 and tended to do better on average than their female colleagues.

APA Citation

Anderson, G., Benjamin, D., & Fuss, M. A. (1994). The determinants of success in university introductory economics courses. The Journal of Economic Education, 25(2), 99-119.

About the Study

Links to Article
Publication Type Journal Article
In Publication The Journal of Economic Education
Type of Research Quantitative
Research Design Survey research (qualitative or quantitative)
Intervention/Areas of Study
Level of Analysis Student-level
Specific Populations Examined Undergraduates
Peer-Reviewed Yes
Specific Institutional Characteristics of Interest K-12
Specific Course or Program Characteristics Social sciences
Outcome Variables of Interest Course completion
Student Sample Size 500 +
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