Review Session and Final Exam: Online Econometrics, Days 14 and 15

Last Wednesday was our last class meeting before the final exam, and I reserved most of our time to answer questions about any topics that have come up in the class. I asked them to send their questions the night before, and said that I would assume anyone that didn’t send questions had full command of the material and would help me answer everyone else’s questions during class. This incentive induced almost everyone to send questions before class.

Having a little extra time let me come up with a couple interesting examples that I could use during the session. We started by talking about the effect of a mother’s income on child outcomes and how we might use interactions to estimate the effect on boys and girls separately. Then we talked about how age might affect individual saving rates, and how we should choose a functional form for age based on both theory and data. We used the same example to talk about potential confounders such as presence of children (yes) and race (probably not).

I had high hopes at the beginning of the class for holding the midterm and final exams at controlled local testing centers. I thought the exams could be held at convenient times and locations, they would be easy to take on the computer, and that they would remove the possibility of cheating by remote students. This time around, the testing centers succeeded only on the last requirement.

It turns out that many of the testing facilities are only open on certain days and times, and that these times can fill up weeks in advance. For my July class, we are going to reserve our spots as early as possible. As I mentioned after the midterm, all my remote students said it took them extra time to type in their answers after they had worked through a problem on paper. They also said it was quite slow to page back and forth through the exam. This made it difficult to follow a test-taking strategy I recommend: Read the whole exam first and then work on the problems you immediately know how to start.

For the final exam, two of my remote students couldn’t reserve time slots or locations that worked for them and they drove the 2-3 hours to campus and took the exam with my on-campus students. In fact, just one student took the final exam in a testing center. This system needs to get better.