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“Undergraduate Economics: Majors, Enrollments, Research on Teaching, Related Departmental Policies, ETC.”* February 20, 2004 Mike Watts, Purdue University

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“Undergraduate Economics:

Majors, Enrollments, Research on Teaching, Related Departmental Policies, ETC.”*

February 20, 2004

Mike Watts, Purdue University

* First presented at Iowa State University, Department of Economics April 30, 2003 and last at the University of Richmond, February 20, 2004. Among other topics not covered in any detail are classroom assessment methods and specific methods of individual

(vs. departmental) teaching innovations/methods.

“Undergraduate Economics Majors, Enrollments, and Related

Departmental Issues”


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Economics Majors and Enrollments

  • How Many Are There?

  • What Affects Their Choice of

  • Majors and Courses?*

  • Who Are They?*

  • When Do They Decide to Take

  • Economics Courses or Major

  • in Economics?

  • * Including the Competing/Cooperative Relationship with the Business Major, and the Gender Question.


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Economists as Teachers

  • What Else Do They Do?

  • What Departmental Incentives

  • and Constraints Do They Face?

  • How Are They Trained To Teach?

  • How Do They Teach?

  • Who Teaches Differently?

  • How Is Economics Teaching

  • Evaluated?

  • Do They Make a Difference?


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DepartmentalPolicies

  • Course Requirements

  • How Is Economics Teaching Evaluated?

  • Attendance Policies

  • Grading Standards

  • Class Size

  • Technology

  • TA or Faculty Training/Support in Teaching

  • Dealing with Cheating

  • Miscellaneous (and mainly anecdotal)

    • 1. Distributional Requirements

    • 2. Quantitative and Non-Quantitative

    • Tracks for Different Types of Majors

    • 3. Minors

    • 4. Specializations/Certificates Within the

    • Major

    • 5. Senior “Experience” – capstone or

    • honors course/sequence

    • 6. Star or Teacher Specialists in

    • Principles Courses (Bait and

    • Switch?) and

    • 7. Differential Teaching Loads


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Course, Curriculum,

and Textbook Content

  • Sexy, Fulfilling, or Traditional?

  • Are Students Customers,

  • Outputs, or Both?

  • Departmental, Instructor,

  • Textbook Author (or Publisher)

  • Choice?


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"How Departments Evaluate Teaching,” Becker and Watts, AER, May 1999.





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"How Departments Evaluate Teaching Survey," Becker and Watts, AER, May 1999.

Undergrad Majors in Department

Total Undergraduate Enrollment in department for academic year


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"How Departments Evaluate Teaching Survey," Becker and Watts, AER, May 1999.

Tenured Faculty in Department

Undergrad Majors in Department


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"How Departments Evaluate Teaching Survey," Becker and Watts, AER, May 1999.

Total Faculty in Department

Undergrad Majors in Department





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Becker and Watts, "Chalk and Talk..." AER, May 1996. Watts, AER, May 1999.

Econ Majors

Total Enrollment on Campus





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Becker and Watts, "...Still Chalk and Talk" AER, May 2001. Watts, AER, May 1999.

Econ Majors

Total Enrollment on Campus


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • How Many Are There?

Willis and Pieper, “The Economics Major: A Cross-Sectional View,” Journal of Economic Education, Fall 1996

21


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • How Many Are There?

William Becker, Undergraduate Choice: Sexy or Non-Sexy, Southern Economic Journal, Summer 2003

22


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • How Many Are There?

“The … loss of economic[s] majors in the early 1990s is primarily attributed to a 24 percent decline at public universities, but there is now a continuing increase in the total number of undergraduate degrees awarded in economics from a low in 1995-96.”

John Siegfried, “Trends in Undergraduate Economics Degrees, 1991 to 2001,”Journal of Economic Education Summer 2002

23


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • How Many Are There?

“Although shocks to the number of economics bachelor’s degrees have persistent effects, the series eventually reverts to a stationary mean, which has been about 2.2 percent of the bachelor’s degrees in the United States from 1948

to 1993.”

Margo and Siegfried, “Long Run Trends in Economics Bachelor’s Degrees,” Journal of Economic Education Fall 1996

24


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • How Many Are There?

  • What Affects Their Choice

  • of Majors and Courses

Falling numbers of economics majors in the early 1990s reflected “the coincidental decline in the demand for business majors and the falling rate of return to majoring in economics,” which reflected “slowdown in employment in the financial service industries” (finance, insurance, and real estate) after 1988; increased competition from business, business economics, and public policy programs; rising enrollments in other social studies majors (especially criminology, anthropology, and international relations), slowed or falling enrollments in business and law schools, and a weak market for professional degrees.

Willis and Pieper, “The Economics Major: A Cross-Sectional View,” Journal of Economic Education Fall 1996

25


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • How Many Are There?

“North American university departments of agricultural economics were surveyed [in 1997] regarding enrollment, curricula, budget and related issues. Average undergraduate enrollments declined over the last eleven years, reversing the upward trend of the previous decade. Graduate enrollments have remained remarkably stable over the past two decades. In response to declining enrollments and budgets, many departments have changed their name and/or curriculum to attract domestic students who are not interested in production agriculture. Colleges of agriculture have, on average, increased their total enrollments by diversifying their programs. This reverses a trend of declining enrollment that had existed for nearly two decades.”

Steven Blank, “A Decade of Decline and Evolution in Agricultural Economics Enrollments and Program, 1985-96,” Review of Agricultural Economics Spring-Summer 1998

26


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors

  • and Courses?

Willis and Pieper, “The Economics Major: A Cross-Sectional View,” Journal of Economic Education Fall 1996

27


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors

  • and Courses?

Willis and Pieper, “The Economics Major: A Cross-Sectional View,” Journal of Economic Education Fall 1996

28


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors

  • and Courses?

Willis and Pieper, “The Economics Major: A Cross-Sectional View,” Journal of Economic Education Fall 1996

29


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors

  • and Courses?

“Schools that offer an economics minor or incorporate more economics electives in their economics programs appear to have been at less risk than those that do not. Economics departments that did not face competition from a business program at the same institution also may have been at more risk than those that had to compete with a business program… It appears that the economics programs at these schools are business/management substitutes, and therefore they are more likely to have experienced a decline in economics majors during the declining interest in business education.”

Brasfield, Harrison, McCoy, and Milkman, “Why Have Some Schools Not Experienced a Decrease in the Percentages of Students Majoring in Economics?” Journal of Economic Education Fall 1996

Also support for interest in minors in Gelles and Johnson, “An Overlooked Opportunity: Instituting a Formal Economics Minor,” Journal of Economic Education Summer 1994


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice

  • of Majors and Courses?

In 1979 the UNC Business School announced the first round of higher admission standards [via overall GPA and grades in core courses], leading to an increase in economics majors – the most popular major choice of those who did not meet

the higher requirements.

Salemi and Eubanks, “Accounting for the Rise and Fall in the Number of Economics Majors with the Discouraged-Business Major Hypothesis,” Journal of Economic Education Fall 1996


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice

  • of Majors and Courses?

Stat 23 is a course on probability and statistics

for business students, not required by any other

UNC degree program.

Salemi and Eubanks, “Accounting for the Rise and Fall in the Number of Economics Majors with the Discouraged-Business Major Hypothesis,” Journal of Economic Education Fall 1996


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors and Courses?

Key differences between DBM and OEM suggest differences in why they majored in economics, and what they planned to do with the degree.

Salemi and Eubanks, “Accounting for the Rise and Fall in the Number of Economics Majors with the Discouraged-Business Major Hypothesis,” Journal of Economic Education Fall 1996


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors and Courses?*

  • Who Are They?*

  • When Do They Decide to Take Economics Courses or Major in Economics?

Economists as Teachers

  • Do They Make a Difference?

Departmental Policies

  • Class Size

  • Grading Standards

At Florida State University, “(m)athematical aptitude and major choices made prior to taking a principles courses are important determinants of whether students complete the two-semester principles sequence and take additional economics courses. Small classes with TAs are associated with an increased probability that a student will complete principles, take upper-division economics, and major in economics. Lenient grading policies increase the likelihood a student will take upper-division economics courses but do not affect the probability of majoring in economics. Measured quality of instructors has no impact on curriculum choices. Women are less likely than men to complete principles or take additional economics courses. The authors found no evidence that gender differences can be ameliorated by employing female instructors in principles classes.”

Fournier and Sass, “Take My Course, Please: The Effects of the Principles Experience on Student Curriculum Choice,” Journal of Economic Education Fall 2000


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice

  • of Majors and Courses?

  • Who Are They?

“Approximately 120 majors are categorized by the LSAT Council. Among the 14 majors that had more than 2,000 students taking the exam, economics students received the highest average scores in [1991-92 and 1994-95]. Among the 29 majors that had more than 400 students taking the exam, economics students received the third highest average score [behind only physics/math and philosophy/religion majors].

Michael Nieswiadomy, “LSAT Scores of Economics Majors,” Journal of Economic Education Fall 1998


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors

  • and Courses?

  • Who Are They?

In the mid-1970s, 25 percent of undergraduate degrees in economics were awarded to women. This surged to 35 percent in the mid-1980s, but fell to under 30 percent in the early 1990s.

John Siegfried, “Trends in Undergraduate Economic Degrees: A 1993-94 Update,” Journal of Economic Education Summer 1995.


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors and

  • Courses?

  • Who Are They?

“Using micro-data from student records, transcript records, and faculty records, …the proportion of classes taken with a faculty member ‘like-you’ positively affects the probability that you will choose that particular major, thus supporting the idea that faculty members can exert a role- model effect on undergraduate choice of major.”

Rask and Bailey, “Are Faculty Role Models? Evidence From Major Choice in an Undergraduate Institution,” Journal of Economic Education Spring 2002


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors and Courses ?

  • Who Are They?

There are several hypotheses offered to explain the under-representation of women among undergraduate economics majors, including:

1) women may be inherently less interested in economics

than men,

2) women may be less willing or able to acquire math skills

necessary in the coursework,

3) women are deterred by the lack of female role models,

and

4) women are discouraged by an unappealing classroom

environment.

Using survey and registrar data from Harvard University, it was found that women began the introductory course in economics with a weaker math background, but that did not appear to explain much of the gender difference in choosing to major in economics. Neither did class environment or the presence or absence of role models. But women did relatively worse in the economics class than in other courses, and controlling for that difference significantly reduces the gender gap in choice of major, leaving “an economically large, but statistically insignificant, difference…. The remaining gender gap may be due to differing tastes or information about the nature of economics. …(W)omen who were considering majoring in economics when they began the introductory course were about as likely to choose economics as were men.

Dynan and Rouse, The Underrepresentation of Women in Economics: A Study of Undergraduate Economics Students,Journal of Economic Education Fall 1997


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors and Courses?

  • Who are They?

Instructors Gender, Student Interest in Subject and Career Plans, Course and Grading Rigor

Conjoint analysis is used to study college student’ choices of elective courses, given six course or instructor attributes. Results suggest that choices are largely a function of the perceived interest in course topic, the applicability of course material to future career opportunities, and the time of day the course is offered. A relative preference for low levels of course and instructor rigor may suggest that students also place a high premium on expected grade. Instructor gender does not appear to affect registration choices in later courses for most students….

K. McGoldrick & W. Schumann, Education Economics, 2002 (10, 2), pp. 241-260.


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors

  • and Courses?

  • Who Are They?

There are persistent gender differences in the economics major. After controlling for relative economics grades and cumulative economics credit hours, “the hazard profiles of female economics majors are indistinguishable from the hazard profiles of their male counterparts.”

John Chizmar, “A Discrete-Time Hazard Analysis of the Role of Gender in Persistence in the Economics Major” Journal of Economic Education Spring 2000


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors

  • and Courses?

  • Who Are They?

In a large, multi-school sample, students with a predisposition to major in economics, who found economics relevant, believed they understand economics as well as their classmates, and who expected higher grades in economics relative to their other classes were more likely to take courses beyond principles and major in economics. “(W)omen and men pursue further study in economics at different rates because of different interests and career aspirations and because women perform less well in economics relative to other courses than do men.”

“Teaching techniques associated with students who were more likely to give their economics abilities higher relative ratings included group problem solving when the class had more female students, grading on a curve, and discussion of topics traditionally considered to be of interest to women by female instructors.”

Jensen and Owen, “Pedagogy, Gender, and Interest in Economics,” Journal of Economic Education Fall 2001


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Economists as Teachers Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • How Do They Teach?

Devoting a smaller portion of class time to lecture and a larger portion to discussion, including group problem solving, is found to be effective for all types of students, but magnitudes vary for different groups. Assessment methods (exams vs. participation points) may also be important. Good students seem better able to learn from lecture, than others, but are especially encouraged by greater use of non-lecture methods.

E.J. Jensen and A.L. Owen, “Appealing to Good Students in Introductory Economics,” Journal of Economic Education, Fall 2003 (34,4) pp. 299-325.


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Developmental Policies Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • Course Requirement

Student scores on math portion of ACT, a course in calculus, whether the student was required to take remedial math, and score on a test of very basic math concepts are significant in explaining performance in an intro micro course.

C.L. Ballard and M.F. Johnson, “Basic Math Skills and Performance in an Introductory Economics Course,” Journal of Economic Education, Winter 2004 (35,1), forthcoming.


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors

  • and Courses?

  • Who Are They?

“Female students fare worse in economics than do male students controlling for measured ability and background. Moreover, fewer females continue in economics than do males, even conditioning on first year performance. We find no indication that the gender of instructor made any difference to the probability of continuation (persistence) in economics.”

Robb and Robb, “Gender and the Study of Economics: The Role of Gender of the Instructor,” Journal of Economic Education Winter 1999


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors

  • and Courses?

  • Who Are They?

Using data collected at Indiana University from the fall of 1984 to the spring of 1990 for associate instructors teaching introductory microeconomics and macroeconomics courses, and the TUCE III data set. Results do not support a positive gender-match role model effect concerning student learning and instructor ratings. This effect appeared only in some years for the IU micro data set but not at all in the IU macro data or either the micro or macro TUCE III data sets.

Saunders and Saunders, “The Influence of Instructor Gender on Learning and Instructor Ratings,” Atlantic Economic Journal December 1999


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors

  • and Courses?

  • Who Are They?

Cross-section data on secondary level student choices provide evidence on factors influencing the decision to study economics. Such evidence makes a key contribution to the broader debates on why student numbers have been falling in economics and why women are reluctant economists. Greater mathematical aptitude and prior knowledge of the subject influence the decision to study economics, and a significant effect is attributable to relative underachievement in economics. There are also significant peer group and teacher effects. Female students are more likely to study economics when there is a critical mass of women studying the subject. There is a positive role model effect of female teachers – although this does not carry over to the decision to continue with economics at the university.

Ashworth and Evans, “Modeling Student Subject Choice at Secondary and Tertiary Level: A Cross-Section Study,” Journal of Economic Education Fall 2001


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors and

  • Courses?

  • Who Are They?

Using data from the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988 (NELS), the authors find that the match between teachers' race, gender, and ethnicity and those of their students had little association with how much the students learned, but in several instances it seems to have been a significant determinant of teachers' subjective evaluations of their students. For example, test scores of white female students in mathematics and science did not increase more rapidly when the teacher was a white woman than when the teacher was a white man, but white female teachers evaluated their white female students more highly than did white male teachers.

Ehrenberg, Goldhaber, and Brewer, “Do Teachers' Race, Gender, and Ethnicity Matter? Evidence from the National Educational Longitudinal Study of 1988,” Industrial and Labor Relations Review April 1995


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors

  • and Courses?

  • Who Are They?

“(E)xpected earnings …[are] essential in the choice of a major. There are, however, significant differences in the impact of expected earnings by gender and race.” Calculating expected earnings requires information on a students’ perceived probability of success (estimated here using data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth), the predicted earnings of gradates in all majors, and expected earnings if the student fails to complete a college program.

Montmarquette, Cannings, and Mahseredjian, “How Do Young People Choose College Majors?” Economics of Education Review December 2002


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors

  • and Courses?

  • Who Are They?

Using data on ratings of instructors of introductory economics classes from a sample of students at 53 different colleges and universities in the United States, and controlling for other characteristics of the instructor and students, no difference in the ratings of male and female instructors of introductory macroeconomics was found. However, on all instructor dimensions, women receive higher ratings than men in introductory microeconomics. Women students have more difficulty with, and less interest in economics than men.

Anderson and Siegfried, “Gender Differences in Rating the Teaching of Economics,” Eastern Economic Journal Summer 1997


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors and

  • Courses?

  • Who Are They?

“(T)here appear to be no gender differences in student performance on tests of understanding intermediate microeconomic and macroeconomic theory. Further, there is little evidence of significant influence being exerted by instructor gender on such student understanding. Nor did we find much support for the view that there is significant student-instructor gender interactions as concerns student understanding of economics at the intermediate theory level.”

Waldauer, Duggal, and Williams, “Gender Differences in Economic Knowledge: A Further Extension of the Analysis,” Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance Winter 1992


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors

  • and Courses?

Preliminary insights from a student learning inventory (SLI) suggest that on entry to university, students show considerable variation in their perceptions of what economics is and what economists do. From the student experience of learning perspective, such variation affects student learning. It is argued that continued development of an economic-specific SLI may result in a better understanding of students' learning engagement with economics and ultimately assist instructors in better understanding student learning difficulties and increase student success in first-year economics.

Shanahan and Meyer, “A Student Learning Inventory for Economics Based on the Students' Experience of Learning: A Preliminary Study,” Journal of Economic Education Summer 2001


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors and Courses?

Mixed evidence on effects of international Tas.

Watts and Lynch find international TAs at Purdue University do not affect student grades but substantially reduce the amount principles students learn.

Borjas finds that foreign-born TAs have an adverse impact on class performance of undergraduate students in principles classes at a large public university.

Fleisher, Hashimoto, and Weinberg find that international TAs at Ohio State do not adversely affect grades or student choices on whether to enroll in additional economics courses.

Kent Saunders finds that principles students “appear to learn as much from instructors whose native language is not English as from instructors whose native language is English.” But “non-native speakers receive significantly lower overall ratings of teaching effectiveness and ratings of ability to communicate than instructors whose native language is English.”

Finegan and Siegfried, using the TUCE III data set and controlling for student learning, find that instructors for whom English is a second language (ESLs) receive lower student ratings of teaching effectiveness in principles of economics courses. The average difference is about 0.4 points on a 1-5 scale. Most of the deficit is attributed to differences in how the two groups of instructors teach their courses and evaluate the knowledge of their students.

Watts and Lynch, “The Principles Courses Revisited,” American Economic Review May 1989

George Borjas, “Foreign Born Teaching Assistants and the Academic Performance of Undergraduates,” American Economic Review May 2000, and NBER Working Paper 7635

Fleisher, Hashimoto, and Weinberg, “Foreign GTAs Can Be Effective Teachers of Economics,” Journal of Economic Education Fall 2002

Kent Saunders, “The Influence of Instructor Native Language on Student Learning and Instructor Ratings,” Eastern Economic Journal Summer 2001

Finegan and Siegfried, “Are Student Ratings of Teaching Effectiveness Influenced by Instructors' English Language Proficiency?” American-Economist Fall 2000


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors

  • and Courses?

Student surveys on 25 economics professors administered to 280 students in a junior level marketing class required of all business students at Bowling Green State University,

In choosing future courses:

“Students seem to prefer professors who have somewhat easier grading policies,” and

“Students who listen to the grapevine have a fairly good idea of what they are getting [in terms of grading rigor] before they sign up.”

J. H. Hoag, M. N. Browne, and M. Wheeler “Does a Professor’s Reputation Affect Course Selection?” The Journal of Economics (14) 1988, pp. 182-91.


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors and

  • Courses?

  • Who Are They?

In a large survey of Australian undergraduate economics students, students rated their lectures and the rigor of their curriculum as the strengths of their degree. They were most disappointed about their training in writing essays, the course advising they received, and their instruction in problem solving.

Siegfried and Round, “The Australian Undergraduate Economics Degree: Results from a Survey of Students,” Economic Record June 1994


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors and

  • Courses?

  • Who Are They?

At a university in Singapore, a study of student grades in economics classes shows males performing better than females, even in essay exams. A high school course in economics improved performance, and “a student’s general ability or intelligence was found to have little impact on his/her performance.”

Richard Tay, “Students’ Performance in Economics: Does the Norm Hold across Cultural and Institutional Settings?” Journal of Economic Education Fall 1994


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors

  • and Courses?

  • Who Are They?

Examining gender differences among Ph.D. economists, basic similarities were found for undergraduate grades, publication rates, and labor market commitment, ceteris paribus. No evidence was found of disadvantages for women in admissions to Ph.D. programs or in nonacademic salaries. But there were differences, ceteris paribus, in GRE scores, attrition from Ph.D. programs, academic salaries and non-tenure-track jobs, and academic promotion rates. Recent drops in female undergraduate economics majors may signal an end to the increasing percentage of female Ph.D.s.

Shulamit Kahn, “Women in the Economics Profession,” Journal of Economic Perspectives Fall 1995


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors

  • and Courses?

  • Who Are They?

Studying the sex, race, and undergraduate training of new Ph.D.s in economics, liberal arts colleges were shown to yield a disproportionate number of female economists, while economists of color tended to come from comprehensive universities.

Anthony Catanese, “Faculty Role Models and Diversifying the Gender and Racial Mix of Undergraduate Economics Majors,” Journal of Economic Education Summer 1991


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Economics Majors and Enrollments Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • When Do They Decide to Take Economics

  • Courses or Major in Economics?

Summary from papers cited earlier and anecdotal evidence:

Students’ decision to take economics courses are usually dictated by the choice of a major, either due to specific course requirements or distributional/field requirements in a major. Economics courses are rarely taken as a truly free elective. At many schools, students must take a principles course or sequence before they can take any other economics courses, which probably reduces interest in taking economics as a pure elective.

Except at schools with no business schools/majors, economics is rarely the major of choice of an incoming freshman. Nationally, less than half of high school graduates have taken a course in economics, so the subject is largely unknown to many entering freshmen. Many college students never take an economics course, either – again depending mainly on requirements in their major.

Many/most economics majors transfer over from some other major, often after a favorable experience in principles courses, or an unfavorable experience in the business major (or, at Purdue and similar schools, in engineering).


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Economists as Teachers Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Departmental Incentives

  • and Constraints Do They Face?

Harter, Becker, and Watts, "Changing Incentives and Time Allocations for Academic Economists: Results From 1995-2000 National Surveys," Journal of Economic Education forthcoming.


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Economists as Teachers Watts, AER, May 1999.

  • What Else Do They Do?

  • What Departmental Incentives

  • and Constraints Do They Face?

Harter, Becker, and Watts, "Changing Incentives and Time Allocations for Academic Economists: Results From 1995-2000 National Surveys," Journal of Economic Education forthcoming.


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Harter, Becker, and Watts, "Changing Incentives and Time Allocations for Academic Economists: Results From 1995-2000 National Surveys," Journal of Economic Education forthcoming.


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Harter, Becker, and Watts, "Changing Incentives and Time Allocations for Academic Economists: Results From 1995-2000 National Surveys," Journal of Economic Education forthcoming.


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Economists as Teachers Allocations for Academic Economists: Results From 1995-2000 National Surveys,"

  • What Else Do They Do?

  • What Departmental Incentives

  • and Constraints Do They Face?

  • How Do They Teach?

Evidence from two surveys suggests that the poor ratings of economics teaching at Australian universities can be attributed to two related factors: inappropriate pedagogical practices and lack of rewards for allocating additional time to teaching. The survey data on pedagogy in economics consist of 205 responses from graduates from two Queensland universities. The time elapsed since graduation ranges from 1 to 10 years. The survey data on academics' time allocation consist of 290 responses from academic economists across a wide range of Australian universities.

Guest and Griffith, “Economics Teaching in Australian Universities: Rewards and Outcomes,” Economic Record June 2002


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Economists as Teachers Allocations for Academic Economists: Results From 1995-2000 National Surveys,"

  • How Are They Trained

  • To Teach?

  • 1) They weren’t (formally).

  • 2) Adam Smith – repetition

  • Role model/observation – but

  • cf. Adam Smith

  • 4) In recent decades, some graduate pre- service and in-service courses/workshops (TTP).


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  • Economists as Teachers Allocations for Academic Economists: Results From 1995-2000 National Surveys,"

  • How Do They Teach?

"Teaching Methods in U.S Undergraduate Economics Courses," Journal of Economic Education, Summer 2001. Data here based on 1995 and 2000 surveys reported in Becker and Watts, "Teaching Economics at the Start of the 21st Century: Still Chalk and Talk" American Economic Review, May 2001 and Becker and Watts, "Chalk and Talk: A National Survey on Teaching Undergraduate Economics," American Economic Review, May 1996.


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Economists as Allocations for Academic Economists: Results From 1995-2000 National Surveys," Teachers

  • Who Teaches Differently?

See general review in Becker and Watts, "Teaching Methods in Undergraduate Economics," Economic Inquiry, October 1995.

Michael Salemi, “An Illustrated Case for Active Learning,” Southern Economic Journal January 2002 Economists as Teachers


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Economists as Teachers Allocations for Academic Economists: Results From 1995-2000 National Surveys,"

  • Who Teaches Differently?

Becker and Watts, eds., Teaching Economics to Undergraduates: Alternatives to Chalk and Talk, Elgar, 1998.


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  • Economists as Teachers Allocations for Academic Economists: Results From 1995-2000 National Surveys,"

  • Who Teaches Differently?

Becker and Watts, eds., Engaging Students in Undergraduate Economics Courses: More Alternatives to Chalk and Talk, Elgar, forthcoming (2005?).


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Economists as Teachers Allocations for Academic Economists: Results From 1995-2000 National Surveys,"

  • Who Teaches Differently?

A model for determining the lecturer's optimal mix of teaching methods is developed, in which the optimal mix of teaching methods balances the greater time cost of more active teaching methods against the increase in the quality of the learning outcomes that result. In the case of two students in a class, one active learner and one passive learner, the optimal teaching mix and the time that each student chooses to spend learning are jointly determined. The paper also shows that the response of the optimal teaching mix to changes in the learning technology depends on the instructor's (or the university's) utility function. A Benthemite utility function implies equal weighting for additional learning outcomes of "academic" and "non-academic" students. A Rawlsian utility function implies a higher weighting of additional learning outcomes of "non-academic" students. These and other utility functions imply different optimal teaching mixes.

Ross Guest, “The Instructor's Optimal Mix of Teaching Methods,” Education Economics December 2001


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  • Economists as Teachers Allocations for Academic Economists: Results From 1995-2000 National Surveys,"

  • Who Teaches Differently?

Harter, Becker, and Watts, “Who Teaches With More Than Chalk and Talk? Eastern Economic Journal Summer 1999


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Harter, Becker, and Watts, “Who Teaches With More Than Chalk and Talk? Eastern Economic Journal Summer 1999


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Harter, Becker, and Watts, “Who Teaches With More Than Chalk and Talk? Eastern Economic Journal Summer 1999


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Harter, Becker, and Watts, “Who Teaches With More Than Chalk and Talk? Eastern Economic Journal Summer 1999


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Harter, Becker, and Watts, “Who Teaches With More Than Chalk and Talk? Eastern Economic Journal Summer 1999


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Harter, Becker, and Watts, “Who Teaches With More Than Chalk and Talk? Eastern Economic Journal Summer 1999


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Economists as Teachers Chalk and Talk?

  • Who Teaches Differently?

Instructors in principles [of agricultural economics] courses should consider placing greater emphasis on modern problems and organonic teaching techniques to increase students' proficiency in agricultural economics. These techniques will stimulate student imaginations, modify learning styles toward collaborative and independent learners, and stimulate interest in the subject matter. Unfortunately, recent developments in teaching principles are aphoristic techniques, including programmed learning, television, and computer-aided instruction. These aphoristic techniques stifle students' imaginations, contribute to a dependent learning style, and fail to stimulate interest in the subject matter. The degree of instructors' adopt ion of modern problems and organonic techniques depends on their teaching abilities, class sizes, types of students, and how their courses blend into the curriculum.

Michael Wetzstein, “An Organonic and Modern Problems Approach for Teaching Agricultural Economics Principles,” American Journal of Agricultural Economics February 1988


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Economists as Teachers Chalk and Talk?

  • Who Teaches Differently?

Even in closely related fields, teaching methods are different in many key respects.

In corporate finance courses, “lectures and instructor-led problem solving are the dominant teaching methods. Textbook reading and individual homework are the primary outside-class assignments. Students' overall grades are determined almost entirely by individual in-class exams. Most finance faculty use computers in their teaching. Approximately half of finance faculty use group work and writing assignments, but fewer than half use student presentations in their courses.”

Kent Saunders, “Teaching Methods and Assessment Techniques for the Undergraduate Introductory Finance Course: A National Survey,” Journal of Applied Finance 2001 #1


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Economists as Teachers Chalk and Talk?

  • Who Teaches Differently?

At the University of South Carolina in Spring semesters of 1995 and 1997, students were randomly assigned to either a no-graphs lecture or a lecture with graphs. The main hypothesis was that students in the lectures with graphs would show higher gain scores than those in the no-graph lectures (both lectures were videotaped). The authors found that students in the lecture with graphs in 1995 had significantly lower gain scores than those in the no-graphs lecture. For 1997, they found no significant differences in student performance between the two groups.

Cohn et al., “Do Graphs Promote Learning in Principles of Economics?” Journal of Economic Education Fall 2001


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Economists as Teachers Chalk and Talk?

  • Who Teaches Differently?

“Instructor supplied notes are found to be a good substitute for a classroom lecture.”

Cohn, Cohn, and Bradley, “Notetaking, Working Memory, and Learning in Principles of Economics,” Journal of Economic Education Fall 1995


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Economists as Teachers Chalk and Talk?

  • Who Teaches Differently?

“In addition to grades received for active learning exercises [in a commodities marketing course], we used monetary incentives to enhance students students’ involvement… Students generally had a positive attitude toward the exercises and the dollar payoffs. …It is unclear, however, whether monetary rewards motivated students beyond the degree typically expected of self-motivated students.”

Bastian, VanTassell, Williams, Menkhaus, and Held, “Active Learning with Monetary Incentives,” Review of Agricultural Economics Fall-Winter 1997


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Departmental Chalk and Talk? Policies

  • Grading Standards

“Merit-based financial aid for college increases the incentives for high school students and their families to directly affect the quality of education by investing more time and effort in schoolwork.” Studies Georgia’s HOPE Scholarship program, providing aid to those who obtain a 3.0 gpa in high school and college since 1993. Payments made to almost 60% of graduating class of 1998, with the percentage receiving payments rising over time. “The relationship between grades and achievement has remained consistent or, in some cases, improved since HOPE began. In fact, African American males and females with a 3.1 high school core course gpa have increased their SAT scores by more than 20 points … indicat[ing] that merit-based aid has improved the quality of K-12 education in Georgia and reduced racial performance disparities…”

Henry and Rubenstein, “Paying for Grades: Impact of Merit-Based Financial Aid on Educational Quality” Journal of Policy Analysis and Management Winter 2002


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Economists as Teachers Chalk and Talk?

  • Do They Make a Difference?

Although student characteristics are several times more important, instructor effects in economics appear to be important at all grade levels. These findings are based on three articles by Watts and Bosshardt:

“How Instructors Make a Difference: Panel Data Estimates from Principles of Economics Courses,” Review of Economics and Statistics 1991 (#2)

“Instructor Effects and Their Determinants in Precollege Economic Education,” Journal of Economic Education Summer 1990

“Instructor Effects in Economics in Elementary and Junior High School,” Journal of Economic Education Summer 1994


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Economists as Teachers Chalk and Talk?

  • Do They Make a Difference?

Comparing regular faculty members who hold Ph.D.s to those with only a Master’s Degree, “After controlling for other characteristics of instructors, schools, and students, we find no significant association between instructor's terminal degree and several objective measures of student learning in introductory macroeconomics classes; students in introductory microeconomics classes taught by Ph.D.-holding instructors learned substantially and significantly less. For neither subject is there a significant net association between instructor's degree and student assessments of amount learned or instructor effectiveness.”

Finegan and Siegfried, “Do Introductory Economics Students Learn More If Their Instructor Has a Ph.D.?” American Economist Fall 1998


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Economists as Teachers Chalk and Talk?

  • Do They Make a Difference?

Departmental Initiatives

  • Attendance Issues/Policies

Student motivation, general gpa, self-financing, hours of employment, teaching quality, and nature of lectures affects student performance, and there is strong evidence of a positive influence from class attendance.

Devadoss and Foltz, “”Evaluation of Factors Influencing Student Class Attendance and Performance,” American Journal of Agricultural


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Economists as Teachers Chalk and Talk?

  • Do They Make a Difference?

Students at a historically black university started a macro principles course with a lower level of economics knowledge than students at a traditionally white college in the same state, but by the end of the course students at the two schools performed similarly.

Simkins and Allen, “Are Learning Outcomes in Economics Different at

Predominantly Black and White Universities? Lessons from Principles of Macroeconomics Courses at Two Schools,” Review of Black Political Economy Winter 2001


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Economists as Teachers Chalk and Talk?

  • Do They Make a Difference?

Using data from principles and intermediate theory courses at Florida State University, it is found that performance in principles courses has a large, positive and significant influence on performance in upper-level courses. Verbal and math SAT scores are not significant in the upper-level courses, nor is the age of the instructor. Males performed worse in the upper-level courses; white students performed better. Transfer credits for principles courses – usually indicating students who had transferred from community colleges – had sizeable, significant, and negative effects in the upper-level courses.

Laband and Piette, “Does Who Teaches Principles of Economics Matter?” American Economic Review May 1995


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Economists as Teachers Chalk and Talk?

  • Do They Make a Difference?

In introductory finance courses, gpa and course grade are strongly related. Better performance in introductory accounting, economics, and math are positively correlated. Age, as a measure of maturity, has a small marginal impact. Hours of study is negatively correlated with final grade. Gender plays no role, and instructors have a differential impact on student performance.

Dida and Hasnat, “The Determinants of Performance in the University Introductory Finance Course,” Financial Practice and Education Spring-Summer 1998


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Economists as Teachers Chalk and Talk?

  • How Do They Teach?

Is there value to sharing with our students what we do as economists, how we do it, and why?

In a money and banking course at South Dakota State University students are required to access, chart and interpret macro data, to research and access journal articles, and to formulate written positions on economic issues using empirical evidence and journal citations to support their positions. The hope was to facilitate deep, not surface, learning.

Empirical results – the project may have helped males achieve greater deep learning, or may have inhibited males’ surface learning.

Only 2 assignments of this nature over a 15 –week course, so results are limited/preliminary.

J. Santos and A.M. Lavin, “ Do as I Do, Not as I Say: Assessing Outcomes When Students Think Like Economics.” Journal of Economic Education 35 (Winter) forthcoming.


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Economists as Teachers Chalk and Talk?

  • Do They Make a Difference?

Departmental Policies

  • Class Size

  • Technology

“The implicit student fees necessary to support annual salaries average $1.30 per class meeting in primary and secondary schools and rise to $4.00 per lecture and up for college teachers. While salaries in teaching are much smaller than in the large-scale visual media, implicit valuations per contact hour in teaching are at least six hundred times larger than in television. Classroom teaching is expensive because a teacher's scale of operations is sharply constrained by the student-teacher ratio.”

Sherwin Rosen, “Some Economics of Teaching,” Journal of Labor Economics October 1987


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Economists as Teachers Chalk and Talk?

  • Do They Make a Difference?

No abstract available, check journal.

Browne et al. “The Impact of Teachers in Economic Classrooms,” Journal of Economics 1991


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Economists as Teachers Chalk and Talk?

  • How Is Economics Teaching Evaluated?

284 of 302 department Chairs responding to a mail survey indicated that evaluations of teaching were mandated, at 89% of Baccalaureate schools and even higher percentages of research, doctorate, and master’s schools. At only 3 of the schools where evaluations were required were student evaluations of teaching (SET) not regularly collected. SET is used more exclusively at Research schools, with peer review used by only 37% of research universities, rising to a high of 52% at baccalaureate schools. Students usually collect SET forms, but teachers do so 4 –12 % of the time at different types of schools, so there is potential for abuse, and also in scheduling to manipulate student response rates.

Becker and Watts, “How Departments of Economics Evaluate Teaching,” American Economic Review May 1999


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Economists as Teachers Chalk and Talk?

  • How Is Economics Teaching Evaluated?

Becker and Watts, “How Departments of Economics Evaluate Teaching,” TheAmerican Economic Review, May 1999


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Departmental Policies Chalk and Talk?

  • How Is Economics Teaching

  • Evaluated?

  • Grading Standards

Grades affect student evaluations of teaching, so “instructors can ‘buy’ better evaluations through more lenient grading.”

Krautmann and Sander, “Grades and Student Evaluations of Teaching,” Economics of Education Review February 1999.


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Departmental Policies Chalk and Talk?

  • How Is Economics Teaching

  • Evaluated?

  • Grading Standards

At USC, there is a slight positive correlation between SET measures and grades. “(M)oving a teacher from the bottom quartile of the rating distribution to the top quartile only raises students a few percent of the way from, say, a grade of B to a grade of A… The implication is that when colleges try to measure teaching performance, it is important to distinguish between teacher evaluation scores and student performance…”

Gramlich and Greenlee, “Measuring Teaching Performance,” Journal of Economic Education Winter 1993


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Departmental Policies Chalk and Talk?

  • How Is Economics Teaching

  • Evaluated?

  • Grading Standards

Comparing grading standards before and after the introduction of student evaluations of teaching (SET) at the University of Akron, grades in the economics department rose about 11 percent when the SETs were introduced, but the effect decayed over time and were observed most strongly among three of 10 instructors who taught about 40 percent of the department’s principles students over the nine-year period.

Stratton, Myers, and King, “Faculty Behavior, Grades, and Student Evaluations,” Journal of Economic Education Winter 1994.


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Departmental Policies Chalk and Talk?

  • Grading Standards

In principles of finance classes, part-time instructors assign higher grades than

full-time instructors (2.92 vs. 2.60).

Van Ness, Van Ness, and Kamery, “The Effect of Part-Time Instruction on Grades in Principles of Finance,” Financial Practice and Education Fall-Winter 1999


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Departmental Policies Chalk and Talk?

  • How Is Economics Teaching

  • Evaluated?

Bosshardt and Watts, “Comparing Student and Instructor Evaluations of Teaching,” Journal of Economic Education, Winter 2001


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Bosshardt and Watts, “Comparing Student and Instructor Evaluations of Teaching,” Journal of Economic Education, Winter 2001


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Bosshardt and Watts, “Comparing Student and Instructor Evaluations of Teaching,” Journal of Economic Education, Winter 2001


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Bosshardt and Watts, “Comparing Student and Instructor Evaluations of Teaching,” Journal of Economic Education, Winter 2001


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Bosshardt and Watts, “Comparing Student and Instructor Evaluations of Teaching,” Journal of Economic Education, Winter 2001


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Bosshardt and Watts, “Comparing Student and Instructor Evaluations of Teaching,” Journal of Economic Education Winter 2001


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • How Is Economics Teaching

  • Evaluated?

“(S)tudents believed organization and clarity to be the most important attributes of effective economics instructors.”

Jameson Boex, “Attributes of Effective Economics Instructors: An Analysis of Student Evaluations,” Journal-of-Economic-Education Summer 2000


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • How Is Economics Teaching Evaluated?

Ordered probit regressions point to differences in the relative importance of faculty characteristics depending on whether the students are evaluating the quality of instruction, the quality of lectures, or the value of the course. All three are significantly affected by question… [on] clear objectives…used class time well…knew when students didn’t understand…lecture-too repetitive of text…challenging questions raised, … quality of exams, … instructors goal met, …pace of coverage, … and use of examples….

The difference in significant explanatory variable are more revealing. Questions [on] agreement between accompanied objectives and [what really happened] in the course [and instructors being readily available were only significant on ratings for the overall values of the course, not the question on quality of instruction. Questions on instructors being “concerned”, …students feeling free to ask questions, …and instruction being well prepared positively influenced ratings on the general quality of lecture and quality of instruction, but not the overall value of the course.] The paper also recommends a procedure for comparing student ratings across faculty members that corrects for those factors beyond the instructor's control.

Mason, Steagall, and Fabritius, “Student Evaluation of Faculty: A New Procedure for Using Aggregate Measures of Performance,” Economics of Education Review December 1995


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • How Is Economics Teaching

  • Evaluated?

“Students were not found to shift responsibility away from themselves nor were they found to be myopic in their evaluation of instruction.”

Steven Dickey, “Shift and Shade the Teacher’s Grade,” Journal of Economics 2001 (#2)


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • How Is Economics Teaching

  • Evaluated?

“Global ratings do not accurately reflect the same teaching qualities across classes or across instructors.”

“SET based on responses to questions the faculty have stipulated as the proper dimensions for determining effective instruction inform students about alternative pedagogical models.”

“(F)ormative SET both instructs the faculty member concerning desirable behaviors and provides an incentive for adjusting towards those behaviors.”

J. H. Hoag and M. N. Browne, “The Formative Use of Student Evaluations of Teaching: An Empirical Demonstration of the Incompleteness of Global Ratings,” The Journal of Economics, (15) 1989, pp.32-40.


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • How Is Economics Teaching

  • Evaluated?

Argues that “all models of instructor performance are underdetermined by the student evaluation of teaching data” and that “the exclusive use of the student evaluation of teaching data in the determination of instructor performance is tantamount to the promotion and practice of pseudoscience…”

Robert Sproule, “The

Underdetermination of Instructor Performance by Data from the Student Evaluation of Teaching,” Economics of Education Review June 2002


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • How Is Economics Teaching

  • Evaluated?

A course management technique called the one-minute paper is described and evaluated. The results are reported for a pilot implementation of the one-minute paper to manage the instruction in the micro portion of the introductory economics course. The evidence suggests that the use of the one-minute paper increases economic knowledge, and that this effect does not depend on the student's ability level or on the instructor.

Chizmar and Ostrosky, “The One-Minute Paper: Some Empirical Findings,” Journal of Economic Education Winter 1998


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Course Requirements

Sexy, Fulfilling, or Traditional?

  • Course, Curriculum, and Textbook Content

A review of school catalogs and requirements for the economics major showed that “Not only are the major requirements and course options similar among the universities in the United States, but they differ little from the requirements of 25 years ago. …The only big difference is the addition of mathematics requirements in some schools and electives such as health economics.”

Course content has evolved, however. For example, in principles classes there is greater emphasis on international economics, aggregate demand and aggregate supply, short-run versus long-run aggregate supply, game theory, and public choice theory; labor economics courses now stress labor market analysis and applied microeconomics in such areas as human capital, household production, hedonic wages, and migration rather than the former emphasis on industrial relations, unionism, collective bargaining, and labor law; intermediate microeconomics courses have expanded formal analysis in such areas as transaction costs, game theory, strategic behavior, asymmetric information, intertemporal choice, and voting rules; and public finance courses spend less time on taxation and more time on allocative efficiency, public goods, externalities, public choice, and government expenditures.

Stanley Brue, “Controversy and Change in the American Economics Curriculum,” American Economist, Fall 1996.


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Course Requirements

“The location of an economics department in a business versus liberal arts school alters the character of the economics program provided to the undergraduate majors.” Not the easily quantifiable measures such as those used by Siegfried and Bidani (1992), including objective counts of courses in the core, number of electives, hours required for the major, but in more subjective factors influencing a “curriculum character index (CCI)”.

This index was based on measures from 148 Comprehensive and Liberal Arts I colleges – schools offering graduate degrees were excluded – and reflected five factors: 1) accessibility (courses open to first-year students in all majors); 2) progressive depth (upper-level electives with prerequisite economics courses), 3) breadth (a wide variety of elective courses),

4) a senior/capstone experience, and 5) advanced core courses offered for students interested in graduate economics training.

Dean and Dolan, “Liberal Arts or Business: Does the Location of the Economics Department Alter the Major?” Journal of Economic Education Winter 2001


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Course Requirements

Supplemental Instruction for principles of economics courses at the University of Missouri entailed a formal review/lab session program designed to improve student learning in courses that have typically exhibited poor student performance. The program was evaluated using a two-equation model and student transcript data readily available to instructors and academic researchers, and explicitly considers the confounding factor of self-selection. We find that ordinary least squares significantly underestimates the positive impact of Supplemental Instruction. The results suggest that formal programs designed to increase the intensity of instruction can have a demonstrable payoff in the form of increased student learning.

Loviscek and Cloutier, “Supplemental Instruction and the Enhancement of Student Performance in Economics Principles,” American Economist Fall 1997


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Course Requirements

In a course on women in the economy, a service-learning project option was offered to each student. Participants were required to volunteer 15 hours to a local organization and analyze its economic impact on women in the community.

KimMarie McGoldrick, “Service-Learning in Economics: A Detailed Application,” Journal-of-Economic-Education Fall 1998


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Course Requirements

Re-estimating results from data first reported by N. Barnett (1997), using probit analysis rather than two-step least squares, to analyze which schools offer gender economics courses and women’s studies programs – to some extent an joint probability – Greene finds that “academic reputation [of the liberal arts colleges] is far less important…. By far the most substantial effect, at the margin, on the probability that the college will have a gender economics course is exerted by a large female presence on the economics faculty. The existence of a women’s studies program has a lesser but also substantial effect.”

William Greene, “Gender Economics Courses in Liberal Arts Colleges: Further Results,” Journal of Economic Education Fall 1998


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Course Requirements

After correcting for selection bias, students who have taken a second semester of calculus are shown to perform a letter grade better in intermediate microeconomics than students who take only one semester of calculus. There was no payoff in intermediate macroeconomics. The sample included 49 classes of intermediate micro, and 41 classes of intermediate macro.

Butler, Finegan, and Siegfried, “Does More Calculus Improve Student Learning in Intermediate Micro- and Macroeconomic Theory?” Journal of Applied Econometrics March-April 1998.


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Course Requirements

  • How Teaching Is Evaluated

A study on developing ways to evaluate teaching performance on a regular basis as a means of improving teaching effectiveness and increasing student learning in the classroom. In particular, an instructor-developed pretest, given at the start of an introductory economics course as part of a pre- and post-test strategy, can be used as a diagnostic and developmental tool for instructors to assess and improve teaching effectiveness. Evidence of students' deficiencies in basic economic and math or graphing skills has led to making changes in content and delivery to increase students' chances of success in the economics course. In addition, pre- and post-test results can be used to determine which economic concepts are being taught effectively and which areas need improvement.

Simkins and Allen, “Pretesting Students to Improve Teaching and Learning,” International Advances in Economic Research February 2000


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Course Requirements

Findings from a survey of 50 U.S. agricultural economics and undergraduate programs.

Oldfather and Schurle, “Macroeconomics and Undergraduate Agricultural Economics,” Review of Agricultural Economics Fall-Winter 2001


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Grading Standards

Sabot and Wakeman, “Grade Inflation and Course Choice,” Journal of Economic Perspectives Winter 1991


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Grading Standards

Economics Majors and Enrollments

  • What Affects Their Choice of Majors and Courses?

  • Who Are They?

Sabot and Wakeman, “Grade Inflation and Course Choice,” Journal of Economic Perspectives Winter 1991


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Grading Standards

“A student who receives a higher grade in English than in Economics, but whose higher English grade is lower relative to her classmates than is her Economics grade, may correctly conclude that her comparative advantage is in Economics. She may then go with her relative strength, and choose a second course in Economics over a second course in English. Or she may choose a second course in the subject in which she is an inefficient learner, English, over a second course in Economics, because of the expected consequences of that choice for her [gpa].”

Empirical analysis of data from Williams College shows support for both effects, but the incentive effects for the absolute effect on gpa is roughly three times larger.

Assuming same grade distribution in Economics as in English is predicted to raise enrollments in Economics by about 12%, and in math about 80%.

Sabot and Wakeman, “Grade Inflation and Course Choice,” Journal of Economic Perspectives Winter 1991


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Grading Standards

In a study of first-year grades in Arts and Sciences programs from seven universities across Ontario, comparing grades for 1973-74 to 1993-94, there is significant grade inflation, but not uniform across departments. There was little or no inflation in mathematics, but substantial inflation in English and Biology.

Anglin and Meng, “Evidence on Grades and Grade Inflation at Ontario’s Universities,” Canadian Public Policy September 2000


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Grading Standards

Using data from the U.S. DOE, evidence is presented supporting the hypothesis that departments may be adjusting grading standards to equate the cost of obtaining a degree with expected earnings – fields of study with lower expected future earnings have higher grade point averages.

Donald Freeman, “Grade Divergence as a Market Outcome,” Journal of Economic Education Fall 1999


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Grading Standards

A model in which schools’ grading standards influence student effort is tested using the Longitudinal Survey of American Youth (LSAY). The level of grading standards at each school is a highly significant predictor of gains in student test scores, more so than are standard measures of school resources. Amount of homework performed by students also responds to grading standards.

Julian Betts, “Do Grading Standards Affect the Incentive to Learn?” UC-San Diego Working Papers 1997


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Grading Standards

Comparing two models of grading standards – one in which grades are a policy instrument for instructors trying to manipulate student study time, and another in which students are rent seeking and allocate time to try to affect teachers’ grading standards – empirical evidence upper secondary schools in Norway where “students have incentives to press for easy grading” leads to the tentative conclusion that “hard grading improves student achievement.”

Hans Bonesronning, “The Variation in Teacher’ Grading Practices: Causes and Consequences,” Economics of Education Review February 1999


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Departmental Evaluations of Teaching,” Policies

  • Grading Standards

In managerial finance courses: “for both male and female students, grades are higher, pass rates are higher, and withdrawal rates are lower for female professors. The overall results of the study were not altered by adjunct/tenure track, or job security issues.”

Henebry and Diamond, “The Impact of Student and Professor Gender on Grade Performance in the Managerial Finance Course” Financial Practice and Education Spring-Summer 1998.


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Grading Standards

“Course performance of ‘grade-motivated’ students … tend[s] to be clustered slightly above the boundaries that separate grades, as long as the variance of the random component of performance is not too large. …(T)he proximity of a grade-motivated student to a grade boundary going into the final exam … influence[s] final exam performance, after controlling for prefinal exam performance.” Offers empirical evidence in economics classes using an absolute grading standard, suggesting that student effort decisions respond to incentives created by the grading system.

Gerald Oettinger, “The Effect of Nonlinear Incentives on Performance: Evidence from ‘Econ 101’” Review of Economics and Statistics August 2002


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Grading Standards

Dropping the lowest grade in determining a course grade has no significant impact on students’ decision to miss an exam or to “write off” an exam, but the policy has a negative and significant effect on performance on a comprehensive final exam.

E. Sewell, “Grade Dropping: An Empirical Analysis,” Journal of Economic Education, Winter 2004 (25,1) forthcoming.


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Attendance Policies/Issues

School A, private, 6,000 undergraduates; School B, public, 20,000 undergraduates; School C, 2,500 undergraduate liberal arts.

“Simple ways of controlling for motivation and other omitted factors have only a moderate impact on the relationship between attendance and performance. Thus, although the possibility that the relationship reflects the impact of omitted factors rather than a true effect can not be ruled out, it seems likely that an important part of the relationship reflects a genuine effect of attendance.

…At the very least, exhortations to attend class seem called for…

(B)ut stronger measures might be preferable.” Suggests controlled experiments.

David Romer, “Do Students Go to Class? Should They?” Journal of Economic Perspectives Summer 1993


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Attendance Policies/Issues

In response to Romer’s (1993) call for mandating attendance, “If students are not motivated to learn, mandating attendance will do little. More importantly, if critical thinking is not required in the class, students may be able to do as well with the text as by going to class. We present evidence to support the latter point. Thus we are not eager to mandate attendance and would not expect mandating attendance to dramatically improve learning in all classes.”

Browne and Hoag, “Can We (in Good Conscience) Require Attendance in Our Classrooms?” Journal of Economics Spring 1995.


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Attendance Policies/Issues

Attendance is important but non-linear, becoming important for students who miss more than four classes.

Durden and Ellis, “Effects of Attendance on Student Learning in Principles of Economics,” American Economic Review May 1995


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Class Size

Consolidating observations from the TUCE III data set so that each observation represents a single class rather than a single student, to alleviate several estimation problems, results indicate that class size and other class characteristics over which instructors or department chairs have control do not affect student achievement. These results are remarkably robust to different specifications, so long as students' Scholastic Aptitude Test scores are used to control for ability and account is taken of whether the TUCE test result counted toward the students' final grade.

Kennedy and Siegfried, “Class Size and Achievement in Introductory Economics: Evidence from the TUCE III Data,” Economics of Education Review October 1997


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Class Size

  • Miscellaneous Star or Teacher

  • Specialists in Principles Courses

Cites a 1990 literature review on class size in education psychology by McKeachie, and then using the TUCE III data set find “no evidence that teaching strategies employed by introductory economics instructors depend on class size. Yet there is reason to believe that the marginal product of different strategies varies from large to small classes, and certainly the marginal cost of various strategies depends on enrollment.”

“Are Better Instructors Assigned to Larger Classes? Regressing class size on instructors years of teaching experience and [SET measures of] enthusiasm, preparation for class, ability to speak English, and overall teaching effectiveness… no relationship was found.”

Siegfried and Kennedy, “Does Pedagogy Vary with Class Size in Introductory Economics?” American Economic Review May 1995


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Class Size

Economists as Teachers

  • Do They Make A Difference?

“Contrary to studies that have used an average or an end-of-term class size measure and find no class-size effect, beginning class size is found to be significant and negatively related to learning of economics, all else equal. In part, this is the result of students in larger classes being significantly more likely than students in smaller classes to withdraw from the course before taking the posttest.”

Having an instructor with a PhD is insignificant in the selection equation but is significant in the value added equation (after adjusting for those students who drop out).

Becker and Powers, “Student Performance, Attrition, And Class Size Given Missing Student Data” Economics of Education Review, August 2001


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • TA or Faculty Training/Support

  • in Teaching

Salemi, Saunders, and Walstad, “Teacher Training Programs in Economics: Past, Present, and Future,” American Economic Review May 1996


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • TA or Faculty Training/Support in

  • Teaching

Given major changes affecting agricultural economics departments (including funding sources and levels, accountability, more emphasis on teaching, linkages with other departments, technology), and school/departmental initiatives for broader faculty teaching involvement, developing agribusiness programs, expanding multidisciplinary majors, adding teacher preparation to Ph.D. programs, expanding M.S. degrees, and faculty training in teaching methods, “Teaching represents a major growth opportunity for Agricultural Economics, but it remains to be seen whether the discipline takes advantage of this opportunity.”

Larry Connor, “Structural Change in Higher Education: Implication for Agricultural Economics Academic Programs” Journal of Agricultural and Applied Economics July 1993.


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Grading Standards

“If an institution of higher education toughens its standards, there will be two opposite effects on enrollment. First, the demand for enrollment places can be expected to increase because of higher expected wages upon graduation. Second, the pool of students who are both eligible to enroll and able to complete the program is diminished, having a negative effect on enrollment. A ‘Laffer curve’ is shown to depict the relationship between enrollment and toughness of standards.”

Stephen Shmanske, “Enrollment and Curriculum: A Laffer Curve Analysis,” Journal of Economic Education Winter 2002

Anecdotal evidence from Nebraska, Purdue, etc.


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Technology

Special Issue of the Journal of Economic Education on different computer technologies used in various undergraduate courses.

Katz and Becker, eds., Summer 1999


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Technology

In control groups that employed traditional teaching methods and Internet groups that contained Internet-enhanced teaching methods, a positive impact of the Internet was found after examining measures of learning and retention of economic concepts, instructor effectiveness, and student attitudes toward economics.

Agarwal and Day, “The Impact of the Internet on Economic Education,” Journal of Economic Education, Spring 1998


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Technology

Mainframe and networked computers provide faculty and students the opportunity to carry on classroom discussions, or conversations that might never take place… Internet and World Wide Web facilities provide additional sources of ideas and information…. With examples of …experiences using e-mail, electronic conferences, and the World Wide Web, this paper discusses some of the uses as well as the costs and benefits associated with incorporating these types of electronic components into economics courses.

David Gillette, “Extending Traditional Classroom Boundaries,” American Economist Fall 2001


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • How is Teaching Evaluated

  • Class Size

  • Technology

Evaluates the use of online examinations and homework assignments in ag econ college courses from both instructor

and student perspectives

Andrew Barkley, “The Future of Teaching Undergraduate Agricultural Economics: Lifelong Learning in an Era of Rapid Technological Change,” Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics July 2001, WAEA Presidential address

“Fundamentally, competent evaluation of teaching requires more than student evaluation.”

Economists fool themselves by claming that large classes are ‘efficient’ in production of knowledge.

…a large amount of research on class size suggest size is not an important determinant of the acquisition of subject matter knowledge (Pascarella and Terezinni, p. 80) However, Mc Keachie (1980) Reports smaller classes are more effective…when the goals of implication are motivational, attitudinal, or higher-level cognitive processes.

…(T)he appropriate use of technology can bring benefits to student learning, and the efficiency of teaching. However, technology is often overused in the attempt to substitute computers for tasks requiring judgment, higher order thinking, or human concern.”


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Technology

No abstract available, check article

KimMarie McGoldrick, “Developing Critical Thinking by Using the Web in a Principles of Macroeconomics Course,” Feminist-Economics March 1999


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Technology

A study of the effectiveness of multimedia-based lectures in finance classes?, based on responses to a questionnaire and exam questions. The questionnaire measured student perceptions about the difficulty of the material, their level of understanding, and the ability of the instructor and finds significant benefits for students and faculty. The most important criteria is whether the ability of students to learn the material is enhanced. Results of the test problems show significant improvements by students who learned the material through the multimedia presentation.

Herbert Weinraub, “Using Multimedia Authoring Software: The Effects on Student Learning Perceptions and Performance,” Financial Practice and Education Fall-Winter 1998


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Technology

An extensive online annotated compilation of 113 non-computerized classroom-games, most of which can be played within one class period, to assist in the teaching of college-level basic micro and macroeconomic concepts. Section two offers several observations about the games. For instance, there is an imbalance between games for microeconomics (many) and games for macroeconomics (few). Some standard introductory economics topics are covered well and others are not covered well or missing altogether. For example, few games exist to present the proper economic role of government in economic affairs. Section three surveys the available literature on the costs and benefits of playing games in the classroom, and provides a matrix to help improve the design of studies on the efficacy of classroom games.

Brauer and Delmeester, “Games Economists Play: A Survey of Non-computerized Classroom-Games for College Economics,” Journal of Economic Surveys April 2001


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Grading Standards

  • Technology

Students who take a principles of finance class over the internet are more likely not to complete the course than students who take the traditional course. Grades received in the internet course are lower, but not significantly after controlling for student characteristics.

Van Ness, Van Ness, and Adkins, “Student Performance in Principles of Finance: Differences Between Traditional and Internet Settings,” Financial Practice and Education Fall-Winter 2000


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Dealing with Cheating

Survey data from 12 classes indicates a probability of .13 that a student cheats at least once on an exam, but probabilities in specific classes ranged from .002 to .32, related to different deterrent measures. Key deterrent measures were teaching by faculty members rather than TAs (32% decrease), using multiple versions of tests (25% decrease), more exam proctors (12% decrease), and verbal warnings (12% decrease). Avoiding multiple-choice questions and increasing the physical distance between students did not reduce cheating.

Kerkvliet and Sigmund, “Can We Control Cheating in the Classroom?” Journal of Economic Education Fall 1999


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Dealing with Cheating

In this study, students graded their own quizzes after instructors copied each quiz. The authors analyzed the difference between the reported and actual scores. At the end of the experiment, students completed a random response questionnaire regarding their cheating behavior. Cheating was more frequent in classes taught by non-tenure-track faculty and more likely to occur as the size of the classes increased. Cheating was positively associated with poor performance in class and being employed. No difference was found in cheating behavior based on gender, religious preference, or overall grade point average. The random response questionnaire administered at the end of the experiment underestimated the absolute level of cheating.

Nowell and Laufer, “Undergraduate Student Cheating in the Fields of Business and Economics,” Journal of Economic Education Winter 1997


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Dealing with Cheating

A higher number indicates lower student tolerance to cheating. Some relationship to the International Corruption Perception Index published annually by Transparency International.

Magnus et al., “Tolerance of Cheating: An Analysis across Countries,” Journal of Economic Education Spring 2002


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Departmental Policies Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Miscellaneous

  • 1) Distributional Requirements

  • Quantitative and Non Quantitative

  • Tracks for Different Types of Majors

  • 3) Minors

  • 4) Specializations/Certificates Within the Major

  • 5) Senior “Experience” – capstone or honors course/sequence

  • 6) Star or Teacher Specialists in Principles Courses (Bait and Switch?) and

  • 7) Differential Teaching Loads


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Course, Curriculum, and Textbook Content Evaluations of Teaching,”

  • Sexy, Fulfilling, or Traditional?


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Course, Curriculum, Evaluations of Teaching,”

and Textbook Content

  • Are Students Customers,

  • Outputs, or Both?

  • Sexy, Fulfilling,

  • or Traditional?

Kenneth Elzinga, “Fifteen Theses on Classroom Teaching,” Southern Economic Journal October 2001


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Course, Curriculum, Evaluations of Teaching,”

and Textbook Content

  • Sexy, Fulfilling, or Traditional?

A number of articles and books deal with adopting feminist perspectives in economics and undergraduate teaching, e.g.,

Lewis and McGoldrick, “Moving beyond the Masculine Neoclassical Classroom,” Feminist-Economics July 2001

KimMarie McGoldrick, “The Road Not Taken: Service Learning as an Example of Feminist Pedagogy in Economics,” in Aerni and McGoldrick, eds. Valuing us all: Feminist pedagogy and economics. University of Michigan Press 1999


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Course, Curriculum, and Evaluations of Teaching,”

Textbook Content

  • Sexy, Fulfilling, or Traditional?

“(C)ourse requirements for the major in Economics…have changed little over the past 25 years. Nevertheless, the curricula has slowly evolved through course changes and emphasis.”

“…It’s unlikely that the severe critics of the present curriculum and methodology will elicit the types of change they desire.”

“It is interesting to speculate on how departments might respond if the decline in majors is the beginning of a longer term trend. …(T)hey might: 1) relocate their best instructors from upper divisions to principles courses…; 2) develop more interesting course titles and descriptions; 3) allocate more resources to marketing the major…; 4) seek out linkages with departments and programs that have the students, trying to establish economics courses as requirements or electives there; 5) reconfigure requirements, remove course prerequisites, and loosen enrollment lids on economics courses; 6) substitute less demanding textbooks for more difficult ones and 7) reduce the analytical rigor of courses, trying to make them more interesting and accessible.”

S.L. Brue, “Controversy and Change in the American Economics Curriculum,” American Economist, Fall 1996 (40, 2) pp. 49-51.


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