Study Finds That Smaller Class Sizes Reduce the Gender Grade Gap in Law School

stanford_bigNew research by scholars at Stanford Law School offers suggestions on teaching methods that may help shrink the gender gap in professional school settings. The authors of the study concluded that “class size and pedagogical policy have a considerable role to play in addressing gender gaps.”

The study examined the grades of men and women in law school classes from 2001 to 2012 and compared these grades by the size of the class. All told, the study included 15,689 grades given to 1,897 students by 91 different law school faculty members.

The results showed that in large classes, women earned a grade that on average was .05 points lower than men. While this may seem like a small difference, the authors note that “an increase in grade point average from 3.6 to 3.65 is associated with a 7 percent increase in the likelihood of securing a clerkship with a federal appellate judge.” When researchers examined grades in classes with a small number of students, the gender gap disappeared.

One author stated that “the smallest, simulation-intensive class led women to outperform men. These results are consistent with evidence from physics courses suggesting that pedagogy via interactive engagement exercises reduces gender differences.”

The study, “Does Class Size Affect the Gender Gap? A Natural Experiment in Law,” was published in the Journal of Legal Studies. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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