HDR Candidate: Yi Zhang

Milestone: PhD Mid-candidature review

Title: Rank, Academic Achievement, and Mechanism

Time and date: 11am, Friday 10 December 2021

Zoom linkhttps://uqz.zoom.us/j/6855619934


Exploiting random assignment of students into classrooms in China middle schools, we examine the causal effect of a student's ordinal rank on educational outcome and investigate the mechanisms behind rank effect. We find a strong relationship between a student's achievement rank among classmates and his/her future scholastic outcome. Rank effect is nonlinear: students who rank near the bottom of the class perform significantly worse, while those who rank among the top perform relatively better.

Such nonlinear effect is relatively more pronounced among males compared to females, predicting more polarized test scores between gender in the later period. We also find a stronger reaction of males to ranks compared to females, which is probably due to males' over self-concept in rank.

Two mechanisms build the pathway between rank and outcome: (1) reactions from students in the dimensions of learning confidence, self-concept in comparative advantage, and educational ambition; and (2) reactions from parents in the dimensions of study requirement, and overall expectation and confidence on children's future. We show that these two mechanisms in total can explain away around 40% of rank effect.