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Monday, July 26, 2010

Why doesn't anyone tell me these things?

One of the frustrating things about getting my degree at a big research school, and now being in a department of people who are (mostly) more interested in research than teaching, is that I often feel like I'm on my own when it comes to finding resources that would be helpful for teaching economics. Because my institution is relatively teaching-oriented (just not really my department), I do feel like there are people around I can turn to for help with certain pedagogy-related issues in general (SDSU has a particularly awesome ITS crew!) but when it comes to teaching economics, not so much. I do pester the tch-econ list-serv when I have a specific question (and if any economists reading this are not subscribers, go sign up NOW), and there are the obvious sources like the Journal of Economic Education and the RFE teaching resources, and now Starting Point too, but I've also had to find a lot of resources on my own (and of course, one of the reasons I started this blog was to share what I find with others so we don't all have to re-invent the wheel!).

Occasionally, I come across something that just makes me feel dumb for not having known about it before. That happened this weekend, when I discovered the "Recommendations for Further Reading" section in the Journal of Economic Perspectives. Technically, I guess I 're'-discovered it, since I think that at one point in time, I did know what this section was about but I stopped getting a hard copy of the JEP years ago, and just never thought about how useful this would be for teaching. In case I'm not the only clueless one, this section specifically "will list readings that may be especially useful to teachers of undergraduate economics, as well as other articles that are of broader cultural interest. In general, the articles chosen will be expository or integrative and not focus on original research." Looking at the last several issues, many of the readings are reports or policy briefs from think tanks or government agencies (like the CBO, regional Feds, World Bank, etc.). Since I've been looking for "non-technical but still quantitative" articles to assign in my data class, and for "non-technical but still written by economists" articles to assign in my writing class, this is a godsend. There are also suggestions for more mainstream news articles, as well as interviews and conversations with prominent economists. 
 
Just wish someone had told me sooner...

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