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Economists are Grading Students Away from the Subject

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Using a unique data set, collected from over 1000 A-level students, we obtain evidence of student interest and achievement in their chosen A-level subjects. Ten major A-level subjects are considered with particular attention focused on economics, a subject that has experienced a marked decline in popularity (by over 50%) in the 1990s. A key finding is that students of economics under-perform in economics relative to both their other chosen A-levels and their GCSE performance. This finding is outstanding amongst the major A-levels. We conclude that students may be discouraged from the study of A-level economics by relatively severe grading at the mid-point of A-level study. Some positive action by the profession may be needed to stem fears of further decline in student take-up in the new AS-level environment where students may choose to discontinue some of their subjects at the end of one year of study.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Economics and Finance, University of Durham, 23–26 Old Elvet, Durham DH1 3HY, UK

Publication date: December 1, 2000

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