Escuela Superior Politecnica del Litoral (ECUADOR)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN17 Proceedings
Publication year: 2017
Pages: 4462-4470
ISBN: 978-84-697-3777-4
ISSN: 2340-1117
doi: 10.21125/edulearn.2017.1960
Conference name: 9th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 3-5 July, 2017
Location: Barcelona, Spain
The Ecuadorian system of higher education has gone through several structural changes. In 2008 public Higher Education Institutions (HEI) became free, and since 2013 both private and public HEI have been rated according to their performance in areas such as research, teaching, work with and for the community and administration. One of the many challenges public HEI face is managing an optimum academic inclusion of those students with unfavorable educational and socio-economic background (about one out of three students in public HEI have a below the median income according to the National Survey of Employment, Underemployment and Unemployment) in order to provide better learning conditions.

This case study analyzes the relationship between socio-economic factors and students’ academic performance in an undergraduate Microeconomics course (129 individuals during the second term of 2016), as this cohort showed less involvement and lower academic performance than students taking the course in previous terms. The analyzed subject belongs to the academic curriculum of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities, ESPOL, a public Ecuadorian university.

Considering the existing literature about the connection between socio-economic factors and academic achievement, the following variables, grouped in categories, were taken into account:
1) education of the head of the family;
2) family income;
3) satisfaction with the chosen career ;
4) usage of study time; and
5) performance in previous quantitative subjects.

Additionally, a particular variable was added which controls for the effect of a tutoring program, which is offered for free by the university. In this program, students from higher levels are hired by the university as tutors for students in lower levels.

Results obtained through Probit, Logit and Ordered Probit Models show that students who do well on other quantitative subjects have a higher probability of scoring better on Microeconomics II. There is also evidence supporting that attending the tutoring program makes it more likely to attain a higher average. Furthermore, students who belong to public high schools (which on average score below private ones in national standardized tests) perform better on this subject. Since failing a course implies that the student has to pay for it in order to repeat it, then those coming from unfavorable backgrounds will have a bigger motivation to avoid this expense.

For this particular case, results suggest the importance of motivation and academic support provided by the university and how the combination of both could even compensate for previous education weaknesses; hence, eliciting a discussion over the need of implementation and evaluation of innovations such as tutoring and coaching in HEI.