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Economics teaching and learning through the arts: the contribution of cinema and literature Gherardo Girardi, Guglielmo Volpe and John Segwick Project sponsored by the Economics Network of the Higher Education Authority Developments in Economics Education, Cambridge 6 September 2007
Overview • Introduction • Interactive session with Death of a Salesman • Results from pilot studies • Conclusion
Introduction Aim: To set up a module that teaches economics by means of cinema and/or works of literature
Introduction • What motivates this project? • Draw in non-mathematically inclined students • Relate economics to students’ lives • Show beauty in economics • Multidisciplinary • Material set in historical context • Multicultural
Introduction • So far, I have experimented with cinema. • Advantages of cinema: • Effective and popular • Time saving
Introduction Comparison with trials in US: Leet and Houser, 2003. Economics Goes to Hollywood: Using Classical Films and Documentaries to Create an Undergraduate Economics Course. Journal of Economic Education (Fall)
Examples of films • Grapes of Wrath • Balkanizateur • City of Joy • Death of a Salesman
Examples of films • Grapes of Wrath • Balkanizatuer • City of Joy • Death of a Salesman Workshop: Death of a Salesman
Pilot study - introduction • The module was piloted in 4 existing modules at LMU: • Introduction to Macroeconomics, 1st year, mostly economists (13): Balkanizateur • Economics of Cinema, 3rd year, mostly non-economists (9): Grapes of Wrath • Economics of Industry, 3rd year, all economists (16): Death of a Salesman • International Business Studies, Master’s, mixture of economists and non-economists (7): Death of a Salesman
Pilot study - Summary of data • 45 responses, of which 25 complete/non self-contradictory • See distributed questionnaire (Economics of Cinema questionnaire simpler)
Pilot study – Students’ comments • “It is good to visualize real life examples and to chain them • to theory“ • “I found the material that was shown relevant to my life • situation” • “The movie is quite old so the relevance is minimal” • “It uses a media which young people grow up with” • “One picture says a thousand words” • “people can discuss the matter in relation to their • experience”
Pilot study – Students’ comments (cont’d) • “It bring the very relevant aspect of behavioural economics • [psychology, sociology] into the picture” • “It’s the best session I have ever had” • “The module would be good before uni” • “It gives economics students an opportunity to relate to • the arts and approach things from a different perspective” • “Seeing a film and relating it to real life is fascinating”
Conclusions • Students’ responses show that project aims were achieved • Students respond very well to project regardless of their • year of study • Student evaluations seems to be linked to (a) relevance of • session to students’ lives and (b) clear structure of • sessions • Hence the message is clear: CONTINUE DEVELOPING THE • MODULE, paying attention to personal relevance and • clarity of structure
Future work • Make link with the academic literature stronger • Increase cultural diversity of the film portfolio