Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Tim Sass

Second Advisor

Jennifer Darling-Aduana

Third Advisor

Stefano Carattini

Fourth Advisor

Jonathan Smith


This dissertation includes three chapters relating to the economics of education. The first two chapters analyze education during the COVID-19 pandemic, with one investigating the impacts of a summer school program and the other looking at teacher labor markets before and after the pandemic. The third chapter, co-authored with Caroline Lamprecht, evaluates the effectiveness of a classroom game for teaching students about environmental policy. The first chapter of this dissertation analyses the impacts of a summer school program using a regression discontinuity design. After the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close and students began remote learning, many researchers have observed a corresponding decline in student achievement or “learning loss.” In this chapter I study a school district that implemented a summer school program in the summer of 2021 with the intent of helping students to catch up to pre-pandemic relative achievement levels. As the district used specific invitation criteria, I am able to employ a regression discontinuity approach and find that the program had minimal impacts for students near the invitation threshold. Further, I find that the program had low participation rates in general, though participation rates were higher among invitees from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The second chapter is a descriptive analysis of teacher labor markets during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the pandemic, teachers reported higher levels of burnout and districts reported difficulties with hiring and retaining teachers. I compare hiring and retention patterns from before the start of the pandemic to those and after the pandemic and find that that pandemic-era challenges only led to temporary changes in hiring and retention patterns. I also employ a series of logistic regressions to understand which teacher characteristics are most closely related to teacher attrition and mobility decisions before and during the pandemic. These analyses reinforce the findings of the descriptive analysis; attrition trends returned to pre-pandemic levels in the second pandemic year.

The third chapter in this dissertation employs an experimental approach to evaluate the effectiveness of a classroom game for teaching students about environmental policy. Students in Principles of Economics courses were assigned to either a treatment group that played the game during class or to a control group which did not play the game. Students were asked to complete two questionnaires which included survey questions and a quiz on cap-and-trade policies. We find that playing the game had modest impacts on student knowledge of cap-and-trade policy. However, we do find evidence that the game may have boosted student engagement in learning economics. Our study suggests that classroom games should be used along with traditional lectures to boost student engagement and interest in learning economics, though games alone may not be the most effective method for teaching economic concepts.