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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Econ Ed Sessions at the ASSAs

I won't be in Boston but for those who will be, here's the round-up of sessions related to teaching... (if I missed any, please let me know!)

Jan 03, 2015 8:00 am, Sheraton Boston, The Fens 
American Economic Association
Curriculum and Assessment of Economic Principles (A2)
PresidingCARLOS ASARTA (University of Delaware)
Modeling and Measuring of Economics Knowledge among Freshman Students in German Higher Education
MANUEL FOERSTER (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz)
OLGA ZLATKIN-TROITSCHANSKAIA (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz)
ROLAND HAPP (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz)
SEBASTIAN BRUECKNER (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz)
Grades, Coursework, and Student Characteristics in High School Economics
WILLIAM WALSTAD (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
KEN REBECK (St Cloud State University)
Motivating College-Level Immersion: The AP Economics Programs and Exams
DAVID A. ANDERSON (Centre College)
Economics Assessment in the IB Diploma Programme
SUSAN JAMES (International Baccalaureate)
GEORG SCHAUR (University of Tennessee)
JOHN SWINTON (Georgia College and State University)
PAUL W. GRIMES (Pittsburg State University)
WILLIAM BOSSHARDT (Florida Atlantic University)

Jan 03, 2015 8:00 am, Sheraton Boston, Public Garden 
American Economic Association

Experimental Evidence of the Impact of Online Education on Student Outcomes (I2, A2)

PresidingREBECCA MAYNARD (University of Pennsylvania)
Virtually Large: The Effects of Class Size in Online College Courses
ERIC BETTINGER (Stanford University)
CHRISTOPHER DOSS (Stanford University)
SUSANNA LOEB (Stanford University)
ERIC TAYLOR (Stanford University)
Does Classroom Time Matter? A Randomized Field Experiment of Hybrid and Traditional Lecture Formats in Economics
TED JOYCE (Baruch College)
SEAN CROCKETT (Baruch College)
DAVID JAEGER (City University of New York)
ONUR ALTINAG (City University of New York)
Online, Blended and Classroom Teaching of Economics Principles: A Randomized Experiment
WILLIAM ALPERT (University of Connecticut)
KENNETH COUCH (University of Connecticut)
OSKAR HARMON (University of Connecticut)
DAVID DEMING (Harvard University)

Jan 03, 2015 10:15 am, Sheraton Boston, Constitution Ballroom B 
American Economic Association

The Economics Major and Economics Education Research - The Past 20 Years, Panel Discussion (A2) (Panel Discussion)

Panel ModeratorWENDY STOCK (Montana State University)
SAM ALLGOOD (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
JOHN SIEGFRIED (Vanderbilt University)
WILLIAM WALSTAD (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)

Jan 03, 2015 12:30 pm, Sheraton Boston, Beacon A 
National Association of Economic Educators

Economic Education Research and the Principles Classroom (A2)

PresidingHELEN ROBERTS (University of Illinois-Chicago)
Economic Education Research in The American Economist: A 50 Year Anniversary
CARLOS ASARTA (University of Delaware)
PAUL W. GRIMES (Pittsburg State University)
AUSTIN JENNINGS (University of Delaware)
Loss Aversion, Distributional Effects, and Asymmetric Gender Responses in Economics Education
MARIA APOSTOLOVA-MIHAYLOVA (University of Mary Washington)
WILLIAM COOPER (University of Kentucky)
GAIL HOYT (University of Kentucky)
EMILY MARSHALL (University of Kentucky)
[Download Preview]
Preconceptions of Principles Students
WILLIAM GOFFE (Pennsylvania State University)
HELEN ROBERTS (University of Illinois-Chicago)
REBECCA CHAMBERS (University of Delaware)
CARLOS ASARTA (University of Delaware)

Jan 03, 2015 12:30 pm, Sheraton Boston, Beacon B 
Omicron Delta Epsilon

Omicron Delta Epsilon Faculty Advisor Session (A1)

PresidingALAN GRANT (Baker University)
Systematic Misunderstanding of Core Ideas in Principles of Economics Courses: A Case Study of Comparative Advantage, Specialization, and Trade
JAMES K. SELF (Indiana University)
WILLIAM E. BECKER (Indiana University)
A Classroom Property Title Experiment
LAUREN HELLER (Berry College)
[Download Preview]
Directed Crib Sheet Development as a Test Preparation and Review Tool
KARA SMITH (Belmont University)
COLIN CANNONIER (Belmont University)
Student Effort and Learning Outcomes in Introductory Economics Courses
NARA MIJID (Central Connecticut State University)
LAUREN HELLER (Berry College)
JAMES K. SELF (Indiana University)
NARA MIJID (Central Connecticut State University)
KARA SMITH (Belmont University)

Jan 03, 2015 2:30 pm, Sheraton Boston, Back Bay Ballroom B 
American Economic Association

The Undergraduate Origins of PhD Economists: Where Do They Come From and Advice to Programs (A2) (Panel Discussion)

Panel ModeratorGAIL HOYT (University of Kentucky)
JOHN SIEGFRIED (Vanderbilt University)
WENDY STOCK (Montana State University)
PHILIP N. JEFFERSON (Swarthmore College)
ELLEN MAGENHEIM (Swarthmore College)
JEFFREY MIRON (Harvard University)
JENNY BOURNE (Carleton College)
NATHAN GRAWE (Carleton College)
MARTHA L. OLNEY (University of California-Berkeley)

Jan 04, 2015 8:00 am, Hynes Convention Center, Room 209 
American Economic Association

The Effects of Attendance, Visualization, Study Time and Tutorials on Learning in Economic Education (A2)

PresidingGEORG SCHAUR (University of Tennessee)
Effect of Peer Attendance on College Students' Learning Outcomes in a Microeconomics Course
JENNJOU CHEN (National Chengchi University)
TSUI-FANG LIN (National Taipei University)
Using Interactive Compound Interest Visualizations to Improve Financial Literacy
EDWARD HUBBARD (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
PERCIVAL MATTHEWS (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
ANYA SAVIKHIN SAMEK (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Is There an Inverse Relationship Between Study Time and Final Exam Scores? Evidence from Principles of Economics
IRENE FOSTER (George Washington University)
QIAN GUO (George Washington University)
CHENG XU (George Washington University)
The Effectiveness of Tutorials in Large Classes: Do They Matter? Is There a Difference between Traditional and Collaborative Learning Tutorials?
KAREN MENARD (Ontario Health Study)
ABIGAIL PAYNE (McMaster University)
VICTORIA LIZA PROWSE (Cornell University)
ANNE BORING (Sciences Po)
ANYA SAVIKHIN SAMEK (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
ANDREW PERUMAL (University of Massachusetts-Boston)

Jan 04, 2015 10:15 am, Hynes Convention Center, Room 208 
American Economic Association

Behavioral Economics in the Classroom (A2)

PresidingBRIGITTE C. MADRIAN (Harvard University)
Principles of (Behavioral) Economics
DAVID LAIBSON (Harvard University)
JOHN LIST (University of Chicago)
Teaching a Behavioral Economics Elective: Highlighting the Evolution of Research in Economics
TED O’DONOGHUE (Cornell University)
Training the Nudgers: Leveraging Behavioral Economics to Expand the Policy Toolkit
SAURABH BHARGAVA (Carnegie Mellon University)
GEORGE LOEWENSTEIN (Carnegie Mellon University)

Jan 04, 2015 10:15 am, Boston Marriott Copley, Wellesley 
Society of Government Economists

Exploring the Potential for Improvements in Economics Education (A2)

PresidingDEIRDRE N. MCCLOSKEY (University of Illinois-Chicago and AIRLEAP)
Training the Ethical Economist
GEORGE DEMARTINO (University of Denver)
When Is Flipping Effective in Teaching Economics? Two Experiments in 'Active' Learning
RICHARD ANDERSON (Lindenwood University)
AREERAT KICHKHA (Lindenwood University)
The Economic Arguments for Government-Sponsored, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in Economics
The Case for Including Economic Thought in the Education of Business Students
BRIAN W. SLOBODA (University of Phoenix)
ANITA CASSARD (University of Phoenix)
Valuing ‘Free’ Entertainment in GDP
RACHEL SOLOVEICHIK (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis)
SETH GIERTZ (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
REZA KHEIRANDISH (Clayton State University)
MARK COSTA (Sustain Software)
SHABNAM MOUSAVI (Johns Hopkins University)
AMELIE F. CONSTANT (Institute for the Study of Labor and George Washington University)

Jan 04, 2015 2:30 pm, Sheraton Boston, Republic Ballroom Foyer 
American Economic Association

AEA Committee on Economic Education Poster Session (A2) (Poster Session)

PresidingSTEVE COBB (Pennsylvania State University)
Active Application of the Game Theory into a Classroom Game with Ethical Concerns and Understanding of Versatile Business Implications
SYLWIA E. STARNAWSKA (State University New York-Empire State College)
Poster Projects in Economics Classroom: Stimulating Active Learning and Creativity
INESSA LOVE (University of Hawaii-Manoa)
Incorporating Sustainability into Principles of Macroeconomics: A Case Study
MADHAVI VENKATESAN (Bridgewater State University)
The Use of a Collective Bargaining Simulation and Its Impact on Student Perceptions and Critical Thinking Skills
ROD D. RAEHSLER (Clarion University)
Flipped & Open
RICHARD ANDERSON (Lindenwood University)
AREERAT KICHKHA (Lindenwood University)
Using Surveys to Advance Economics Students Learning through Undergraduate Research
ZAMIRA S. SIMKINS (University of Wisconsin-Superior)
Tools for the Trade: Helping Business Majors See Value in Economics
MANDIE WEINANDT (University of South Dakota)
Making Economics Interactive: A Holistic Approach to Teaching
NATALIA V. SMIRNOVA (American Institute for Economic Research)
MICHELLE RYAN (American Institute for Economic Research)
Analyze This!
JILL BECCARIS-PESCATORE (Montgomery County Community College)
Inspiring Creativity through Intercollegiate Competitions
JAMES E. TIERNEY (Pennsylvania State University)
KALINA STAUB (University of Toronto-Mississauga)
KIM HOLDER (University of West Georgia)
WAYNE GEERLING (Pennsylvania State University)
TERM IT! : A Term-Based Method that Quickly Transforms Students into Thinking and Writing "Macro-Economically" or "Micro-Economically"
CAROLINE KABA (Glendale Community College)
Crowdsourcing Test-Aids in Economics Courses
LEILA FARIVAR (Ohio State University)
50 Movies for 50 Years: A Look at the Most Influential Films Related to Economics from 1965 to 2014
G. DIRK MATEER (University of Arizona)
KIM HOLDER (University of West Georgia)
J. BRIAN O’ROARK (Robert Morris University)
Capitalism, Communism, and the Mixed Economy: A Classroom Simulation
JAMES BRUEHLER (Eastern Illinois University)
ALAN GRANT (Baker University)
LINDA S. GHENT (Eastern Illinois University)
Dive In! Tips for Teaching Economics Through "Shark Tank"
CHARITY-JOY ACCHIARDO (University of Arizona)
ABDULLAH AL-BAHRANI (Northern Kentucky University)
DARSHAK PATEL (University of Tennessee-Martin)
BRANDON J. SHERIDAN (North Central College)
Teaching Pluralist Introductory Economics - No, It's Not Too Early
IRENE VAN STAVEREN (Erasmus University Rotterdam)
A Connection System in Economics Education
Research Oriented Learning and Teaching in Economics
JAN H. HOFFLER (University of Gottingen)
SUSANNE WIMMELMANN (University of Gottingen)
Economics: The (not so) Dismal Science
SIMON MEDCALFE (Georgia Regents University)
Connecting Supply and Demand - An Interactive Visualization
ADALBERT MAYER (Washington College)
[Download Preview]
The One Minute Paper and a New Use for the Airplane Production Exercise
AMY HENDERSON (St Mary's College of Maryland)
Teaching "The Theory of Second Best"
RANGANATH MURTHY (Western New England University)
The Undergraduate Economics Capstone Course: Bringing it All Together through Service-Learning
WILLIAM ALAN BARTLEY (Transylvania University)
An Application of Benefit-Cost Analysis to Assess Career Changes
BRIAN W. SLOBODA (University of Phoenix and U.S. Department of Labor)
Student Social Media Preferences for Learning Economics
HOWARD H. COCHRAN, JR. (Belmont University)
MARIETA V. VELIKOVA (Belmont University)
BRADLEY D. CHILDS (Belmont University)
Pay for Play? Engaging Students through a Graded Multiplayer Prisoner's Dilemma
ALAN GREEN (Stetson University)

Jan 04, 2015 2:30 pm, Sheraton Boston, Hampton Room 
National Association of Economic Educators

New Initiatives in Teaching, Learning, and Assessment in Postsecondary Economics (A2) (Panel Discussion)

Panel ModeratorSAM ALLGOOD (University of Nebraska-Lincoln)
AMANDA BAYER (Swarthmore College) Advanced Placement Exams in Economics
WILLIAM WALSTAD (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) Test of Understanding in College Economics (TUCE)
RAE JEAN GOODMAN (United States Naval Academy) OECD's Assessment of Higher Education Learning Outcomes (AHELO)
JOSIPA ROKSA (University of Virginia) SSRC's Measuring College Learning (MCL) Project

Jan 04, 2015 8:00 pm, Sheraton Boston, Republic Ballroom A & B 
American Economic Association

7th Annual Economics Humor Session in Honor of Caroline Postelle Clotfelter (Y9)

PresidingJODI BEGGS (Northeastern University and Economists Do It With Models)
Rockonomix: Integrating Economics and Popular Music
KIM HOLDER (University of West Georgia )
Was that Rational? The American Economic (Year in) Review
JAMES E. TIERNEY (Pennsylvania State University)
Dual Mandate
MERLE HAZARD (merlehazard.com)
Homer-Economicus: The Simpsons and Economics
JOSHUA HALL (West Virginia University )
A Few Goodmen: Surname-Sharing Economist Coauthors
ALLEN C. GOODMAN (Wayne State University)
JOSHUA GOODMAN (Harvard University)
LUCAS GOODMAN (University of Maryland)
SARENA GOODMAN (Federal Reserve Board)
[Download Preview]
We the Economy
Economic-con 2015: A Theory of Maximizing Social Welfare via Top Decile Earners
ZACH WEINERSMITH (Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal)
Economic Actors
JODI BEGGS (Northeastern University and Economists Do It With Models )

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Timely links

If you need to procrastinate from end-of-semester responsibilities...
  • PNC's Christmas Price Index is out and Christmas is a little more expensive this year.
  • If you're looking for gift ideas for stat geeks, this Etsy page is worth checking out (I totally want to get some of the stuffed normal distributions to give out in my data class!).
  • Before you read your student evaluations, read this post from Faculty Focus to help keep any negative comments in perspective.
  • And if grading has you in despair about your students, another good post from Faculty Focus has some nice reminders of the reasons we really do love teaching.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

New Directions

For anyone who was wondering: yes, I'm still alive! But the last few months have certainly been interesting! In July, I was asked to be the Director of our Center for Teaching and Learning, so August was mostly a blur of meetings (and extreme stress!) as I tried to get up to speed and ready for the start of the school year. It's taken me this long to feel like I have some clue about what I'm doing (or at least, to feel like I can fake having a clue with reasonable credibility :-)). It's definitely been an adjustment. The position is sort of halfway between administration and faculty, which turns out to mean that when I'm in a room with mostly staff and administrators, I find myself speaking as a faculty person, and when I'm in a room with mostly faculty, I tend to find myself speaking as an administrator. That's not always fun but on the plus side, I feel like in both situations, I have an opportunity to move the conversation in productive directions.

I'm still half-time in the Econ department, although I'm not teaching this semester; I'll be teaching one class each year and I chose to hold onto my writing class which we usually offer in the spring. I just did a presentation at the National Economics Teaching Conference on integrating writing (the materials for all the sessions, including mine, can be downloaded from that link) and hope to write soon about some of the questions that were raised there. But one consequence of my new position is that I'm now much more interested in/aware of how teaching issues affect faculty across the university, not just in economics, and I may start exploring some of those issues in posts here as well.

Happy holidays everyone! May you have much for which to be thankful...

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Useful links: Micro principles edition

  • Amazon’s explanation of their dealings with Hachette provide a great, highly-specific example of the connection between elasticity and total revenue. You could ask students to use the provided data to calculate what Amazon thinks is the price-elasticity of demand for e-books. In addition, this InsideHigherEd post raises some good points about substitutes and pricing strategies across books.
  • All Things Considered aired a story this week entitled “Why are theater tickets cheaper on the West End than on Broadway?” In discussing the price difference between tickets in New York and London, the story touches on multiple economic concepts, including economies of scale, product differentiation, price discrimination, subsidies and substitutes.
  • The next time your students ask you what they can do with an economics degree, you may want to share this article with them. It’s about how economists are increasingly being hired by tech companies to talk data and PR to customers and the media. I do have to say, I find it interesting that economists are not exactly known for their great communication skills but the article makes it sound a bit like finding economists with the skills to communicate effectively with the public is no big deal.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Useful links for beginning scholars

Back in April, I mentioned that the Journal of Econ Ed had several articles providing advice for those who submit papers to the JEE. Two other recent publications may also be useful, particularly for grad students and those at the beginning of their academic careers:
  • In The Art and Science of Scholarly Publishing, the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, Maureen Pirog, provides some great do’s and don’ts for getting published in peer-reviewed outlets. She also summarized her main points for Inside Higher Ed.
  • The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE) has a wonderful guide for academics about how to write for non-academics, called Going Public: Writing about research in everyday language. Although the focus is on education research, Mark Dynarski and Ellen Kisker’s advice applies to anyone doing policy-relevant research.
And of course, younger scholars should not miss the Primer for New Teachers of Economics in the Southern Economic Journal (an ungated version is available on my website).

Friday, May 30, 2014

EconEd Active: Ideas for an engaging classroom

One common challenge for instructors new to interactive teaching is deciding exactly what to do. From one perspective, there are tons of resources available (like all those listed on my ‘Resources for Teachers’ page), providing ideas about what to do and guidance on how to do it. But almost all of those resources are organized around pedagogy; for example, From ABBA to Zeppelin has great examples of song lyrics that can be used to teach economic concepts, Games Economists Play catalogs lots of ‘experiments’, and the Starting Point portal is organized by pedagogical tool (clickers, simulations, context-rich problems, etc.). But for folks who don’t already use these tools, how do you know which site to go to in the first place?

Many economists don’t think much about pedagogy, let alone think about it first. Instead, most people start with the content they know they want to ‘cover’ and then they think about how they are going to teach it. Once you are on a site like Games Economists Play, you can certainly search for examples addressing specific concepts (like ‘elasticity’ or ‘externalities’) but again, to get to the site, you first have to be thinking “I want to find an experiment for this”.

Last fall, I began working with the folks at Worth Publishers on a site for teachers who want to incorporate more active learning into their classes*. To make it more useful for those who may not do much interactive teaching currently, everything is organized under broad econ topics (loosely corresponding to common textbook chapters) rather than pedagogy, and each topic page has links to other resources from around the Web, as well as examples of clicker questions. The objective is not to catalog every possible option for activities but to give people an idea of the range of possibilities and get them started (the way I put it is that I am ‘curating’ the resources, not creating or cataloging them).

The site, called EconEd Active, is now up and running, though it is still (and will continue to be) a work in progress as I add more/new content. We’re also hoping folks who use these activities will contribute to the conversation, sharing insights from their own experiences; right now, the best way to do that is through the Facebook page.

If you’re new to interactive teaching, or you’re thinking about flipping your class and looking for things to do with the class time you’ve freed up, or you just attended CTREE and are energized to re-vamp your classes, I hope you’ll check out EconEd Active and let me know what you think!

* The site is provided by Worth but it isn’t associated with any particular textbook and is available to everyone.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

AEA Teaching Conference

After missing the last two, I'm on my way to the Fourth Annual AEA Conference on Teaching and Research in Economic Education (CTREE) in D.C. I'll be presenting in two different sessions about flipping the classroom, both on Thursday, at 8:30am (session B6) and at 11am (session C2). There are a ton of interesting sessions - I have no idea how I'll decide which ones to go to! If any readers are attending, come find me and say hi!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Share what you do!

The latest issue of the Journal of Economic Education has several must-read articles, written by the associate editors, providing advice about submitting your work to the different sections of the journal. If you are doing innovative things in your classroom, even if you are not doing controlled experiments or otherwise ‘proving’ effectiveness, you can still share what you’re doing in the Journal’s Instruction section. Personally, I usually find the articles in that section more useful for my actual teaching because they often provide descriptions of new activities or approaches, along with giving insight from the instructors about how things worked in the classroom.

While on the subject, the Starting Point site is also a great place to share what you’re doing (and to find really useful descriptions of activities you might want to try yourself). Each of the modules focuses on a different pedagogical tool and has examples of assignments and activities using that tool in economics. Some of the modules have more contributions than others, but anyone can submit examples. The submission page walks you though the information that is needed, all of which is aimed at making your description as useful as possible for other instructors.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Are you ready for the Common Core?

One of my sabbatical projects involves working with the San Diego Center for Economics Education to develop workshops for K-12 teachers related to economics and the Common Core State Standards. For any readers who are not familiar with the Common Core, here’s a super-quick summary: The Common Core is a set of standards for K-12 math and English language arts that have been adopted by almost every state, including California. There’s been a lot of hoopla about them in the media, partly because of the politics (contrary to what you may have heard, the Common Core standards were not forced on states by the Obama administration!), but for college instructors, the big thing you need to be aware of is the difference between the standards that most states previously had in place and the Common Core standards. To put it in simplest terms, the previous standards (at least in California, and most other states that I know of) focused primarily on CONTENT – i.e., what students are supposed to KNOW – while the Common Core focuses primarily on SKILLS – i.e., what students should be able to DO. So, for example, instead of simply identifying facts that can be found within a reading, students have to show they understand how and why those facts are relevant to the story or document. In math, instead of simply memorizing multiplication tables, students are asked to show the process of how they arrive at a solution (with a recognition that there can be multiple ways to arrive at the same answer). For those familiar with Bloom’s taxonomy, the Common Core basically is trying to move all students up to the higher levels of learning.

The implementation of Common Core has been rocky in many states – it certainly has been in California – in part because the new standards really require many teachers to completely change the WAY they teach. It’s simply impossible to imagine how you can get students to meet the Common Core standards if all you’re doing is having them read textbooks and listening to lectures. Teachers will have to adopt more interactive pedagogies that allow students to engage more deeply with material so they can really practice those higher order skills.

One thing that worries me is that people in higher education don’t seem to be very aware of what’s going on with the Common Core. This is problematic because although the Common Core standards apply to K-12 schools, they are eventually – hopefully – going to have a huge impact on college classrooms: if K-12 schools successfully implement the standards, the students who walk into our classes are going to start looking very different, both in terms of what they know and can do, and in terms of what they EXPECT from us. On the plus side, they should have much better communication and analysis skills than our current freshman, which means we can ask more of them and take our classes to a higher level; on the other hand, if students have just spent 13 years in classes where they are asked to participate, to work in groups, to discuss and analyze – chances are, they’ll be pretty unhappy if we then ask them to just sit and listen to us talk at them.

So for me, Common Core provides yet another reason why moving away from lecture to more active learning pedagogies is not only something that we really SHOULD be doing for the benefit of our students, but in many ways, I believe it’s something we MUST be doing, or else we risk becoming obsolete.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Odds and ends

  • Teaching position at Leiden University College: Leiden University College, The Hague is a liberal arts and science college of Leiden University. The University College experiment in the Netherlands began as an effort to raise the quality of education and teaching in Universities by importing and adapting the Liberal Arts and Science model. Note the deadline is April 15!
  • Call for Papers: The National Economics Teaching Association is now accepting proposals for their fall conference, which will be November 6-7 in lovely San Diego.
  • I occasionally post links on the blog’s Facebook page, which also get pushed to my Twitter feed [note that if you have ‘liked’ the FB page, you may need to adjust your settings to make sure that you actually see posts in your feed, or get notifications]. Last month, there was a story from Marketplace about movie ticket prices and revenue that would be great for talking about elasticity, and NPR had a behavioral econ story about technology and tipping.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Useful links (self-promotion edition!)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Using media clips for in-class assignments

In my last post, I walked through how I make videos to go with songs that I play as students enter class. A lot of times, I just play the songs/videos and then proceed with class; the songs are really just a way to get students thinking about how economics relates to many aspects of their lives that they may not be aware of (plus, the end of the music signals to students that class is about to start, which was a particularly big help when I was teaching the 500-seat section).

But songs (and movie or TV clips) can also be useful springboards for in-class assignments. All of the resources out there that have suggestions for media clips in economics (like Music for EconMovies for Econ, or The Economics of Seinfeld) will identify which economic concepts the clips address and have at least a short summary of what’s in the clip. A couple (ABBA to Zeppelin and Dirk’s site) also provide some specific follow-up questions that instructors could use in class. I thought it might be helpful for people to see specifically how I integrate media clips into my classes with those types of questions.

I’ve written up one example already for the Starting Point module on interactive lectures. In that one, students watch a clip from the Colbert Report that deals with externalities in the market for cashmere and then I ask them to draw the graph for that market, showing the external costs and identifying the private and social equilibria. In the 500-seat class, students responded to clicker questions about their graphs; in smaller classes, you could actually collect the graphs and grade them directly, or have students get into small groups to assess each other’s work.

In another example, I use the song “Big Yellow Taxi” to discuss cost-benefit analysis. I created the following video for the song (using the Counting Crows cover since I’m pretty sure my students have never heard the original!):

(note: if you watch the whole thing, you'll notice it goes on for a while at the end - I usually manually fade it out in class)
Most of the time, I play the video as students are coming into class on the day after we have discussed marginal versus sunk costs (so they are already familiar with the basic definitions). I then start the class by handing out a sheet with the full lyrics and have them answer some questions (most of which are also asked in the video), identifying the costs in the song. For classes where students are working in teams, they answer the questions on a team worksheet (you can see the specific worksheet I use here); in a larger class or without teams, you could ask the questions using clickers or with a think-pair-share approach.

Even if you just use songs or film/TV clips as simple examples to spice up your lecture, they are typically much more engaging for students than talking about corn and wheat, but if you can get them to do something with the content from those clips, it can be even more effective.