One of my tasks for this week is to write the first midterm for my principles class. Writing exams is one of the few things that I find actually gets harder the longer I've taught the class, since I have to come up with new questions each time. One thing that helps is that I now have my students write questions at the end of each semester and that always yields at least a few that I can use the following semester. And I often start with old questions and just change the market and re-arrange the answers (bikes instead of cars, demand up instead of down, etc.). That can be challenging in and of itself because I try to think of real markets (not widgets!) that students will have some familiarity with but that haven't already been mentioned a hundred times, either by me, in class, or in their textbook or on Aplia - e.g., if anyone has ideas for realistic goods other than tobacco and gasoline to use for questions about inelastic demand or taxes, please let me know!
But in addition to coming up with realistic, original applications, I find myself spending some time (admittedly more than I should) trying to be clever with the names of the people in the questions. So, for example, I have Jack and Jill in the market for buckets, or Jim and Pam working in an office, or LaDainian shopping for footballs (if you have favorite examples, please share in the comments!). This totally amuses me (yes, I'm easily amused), but I'm always curious if my students even get the references. Or if they do, whether they think they're funny or I'm just weird...
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