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Does Class Size Affect the Gender Gap? A Natural Experiment in Law

Daniel E. Ho and Mark G. Kelman
The Journal of Legal Studies
Vol. 43, No. 2 (June 2014), pp. 291-321
DOI: 10.1086/676953
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/676953
Page Count: 31
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Does Class Size Affect the Gender Gap? A Natural Experiment in Law
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Abstract

AbstractWe study a unique natural experiment in which Stanford Law School randomly assigned first-year students to small or large sections of mandatory courses from 2001 to 2011. We provide evidence that assignment to small sections closed a slight (but substantively and highly statistically significant) gender gap existing in large sections from 2001 to 2008; that reforms in 2008 that modified the grading system and instituted small graded writing and simulation-intensive courses eliminated the gap entirely; and that women, if anything, outperformed men in small simulation-based courses. Our evidence suggests that pedagogical policy—particularly small class sizes—can reduce, and even reverse, achievement gaps in postgraduate education.

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