Welcome new readers!

The "New to the blog? Start here" page will give you an overview of the blog and point you to some posts you might be interested in. You can also subscribe to receive future posts via RSS, Facebook or Twitter using the links on the right-hand side of the page, or via email by entering your address in the box. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

John and Milton were taking Econ 102...

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...


  1. I have Melville and Ahab running a bait shoppe. I even get an occasional chuckle from some students.

  2. Back when Bevis and Butthead were popular, I would use their names in examples. At the end of the semester a student complimented me for using those names because it made the course more "realistic."

  3. That brings up a related problem that seems to grow worse each year - knowing what names students will actually recognize! Sometimes I wonder if I should watch the CW a little more, just to keep in touch with what my students are watching!


Comments that contribute to the discussion are always welcome! Please note that spammy comments whose only purpose seems to be to direct traffic to a commercial site will be deleted.