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Teaching Economic Realities versus Perceptions using Surveys and SAS® Steven C. Myers Department of Economics The University of Akron 23rd Annual Teaching.

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Presentation on theme: "Teaching Economic Realities versus Perceptions using Surveys and SAS® Steven C. Myers Department of Economics The University of Akron 23rd Annual Teaching."— Presentation transcript:

1 Teaching Economic Realities versus Perceptions using Surveys and SAS® Steven C. Myers Department of Economics The University of Akron 23rd Annual Teaching Economics Conference on instruction and Classroom Based Research Robert Morris University February 16-18, 2012

2 Objectives of using Surveys and SAS Turn students on to the mechanics of applied economic research Course Setting is a first course after principles Give them experience in using computers in research SAS® is highly marketable Active learning. Team building and individual aspects Writing up results professionally

3 Course Based Research Skills Synthesis of economic knowledge and intuition with data collection methods in a field survey and the analysis of that data using a major statistical tool Course: Computer Skills for Economic Analysis Part of a major revision of UA curriculum Students learn to learn about economics on their own Students develop a research hypothesis in a team setting Students are exposed to writing up research results usually for the first time.

4 The Hansen Proficiencies W. Lee Hansen (2001) Graduates can access existing economic knowledge Graduate demonstrate a command of existing economic knowledge Graduates are able to interpret existing economic knowledge Graduates are able to interpret and manipulate economic data Graduates can apply existing economic knowledge Graduates are able to create new knowledge Myers, Steven C., Michael Nelson, and Richard Stratton. (2009) "Assessing an Economics Program: Hansen Proficiencies, EPortfolio, and Student Research" International Review of Economics Education. 8 (1), June, pp 87- 105.

5 What are Perceptions versus realities? – Caplan, Brian. (2001) "What Makes People Think Like Economists? Evidence on Economic Cognition from the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy." Journal Of Law & Economics 44 (2). – Caplan, Brian. (2006) How do voters form positive economic beliefs? Evidence from the Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy. Public Choice, Vol. 128, Issue: 3-4, September. – Kaiser Family Foundation. (1996) Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy, Oct. 1996, accessed December 31, 2011 at http://www.kff.org/kaiserpolls/1199-econgen.cfm http://www.kff.org/kaiserpolls/1199-econgen.cfm

6 Survey of Americans and Economists on the Economy Perceptions versus realities Source Kaiser Family Foundation (1996) 1. When you think of todays economy (Oct 1996) do you think it is … Growing rapidly Growing slowly Stagnating In a recession In a depression No opinion General Public 18 42201073 Economists 12802006

7 Peter Kennedy, A Guide to Econometrics (2008) The curriculum revision added a senior project and required Econometrics and the Computer Skills course. Three Pillars of Applied Econometrics Problem articulation Data cleaning Model specification Applies to Applied Economics as well Applies to beginning researchers as well.

8 Questions for the classroom research How do economic student majors differ from the public in how they respond to economic questions and in their opinions on various economic issues? Do that part of the public that have had a college level economics course answer more like economic students or more like the rest of the public? How are economic realities different than perceptions? Do these findings change over time? How can answering these questions lead students to understand economics more and to make them a better undergraduate researcher on the next project?

9 Process of research 1.Create Survey based on research questions 2.Administer the Survey 3.Collect the data 4.Record the data 5.Clean and Merge the data 6.Use SAS® to explore and display the data 7.Report the results in a professional way 8.Share the results 9.Experience Feedback

10 The Deliverables 1.Student submits Excel with only their individual answers 2.Student submits Excel with their 30 surveys 3.Student team submits a 2-3 page document of something interesting using at least 1 professionally done two-way table. 4.Teams formed, team based research paper on Perceptions versus Realities

11 Create Survey in class, year 3 Continuity with past surveys – New questions – Verifiable answers What is the unemployment rate? – Predicted economic outcomes How is the economy now? next year? – Policy Opinions Do you believe that free trade is beneficial? – Attach a SAS legal variable name to each question Answer codes in a,b,c, format Character vs. numeric data

12 Provide each student with the one sheet questionnaire – Front and back – Print and give to them, or – email the pdf image – Prepare a copy without the SAS variable names for passing to interviewees Questionnaires and codebook at Myers, Steven C (2011) "Annual Survey Project, 2009-2011, Perceptions versus Realities," Survey forms and relative frequency distributions, Course in Computer Skills for Economic Analysis, Department of Economics, The University of Akron accessed at http://GoZips.UAkron.edu/~myers/scholarship http://GoZips.UAkron.edu/~myers/scholarship

13 Each student conducts personal interviews in the field – At least 30 surveys – Discussion of random selection Reality of this survey design is for pedagogy and not inquiry Strong pitch to get as much diversity as possible in the selection of those to interview – Do not give to frat buddies or just stand in the hall after a freshman class gets out. – Diversity should include those who have taken economics and those who have not. – Diversity should include those who are working full time and out of school. 20-30 students and 30 interviews each give a large enough sample for analysis and also helps the representativeness of the sample

14 Network space is assigned to each student on a shared disk drive – Network drive is designated as the E:\ drive – In a common directory (e.g., E:\E226\Survey) are the tools, e.g., interview forms and the Excel spreadsheet Security for students is read only The Excel spreadsheet is used for the submission of the interview data (more on this below) The Spreadsheet follows a required naming convention (more below)

15 Network space is assigned to each student on a shared disk drive In subdirectories (e.g., E:\E226\Survey\Student1) each student is given his own space in which to upload or write the completed Excel spreadsheet – Security: students may write to this directory, but not modify its contents This guarantees integrity of the data The submission is date and time stamped for deadline compliance – If students desire to upload a corrected file they must save with a different name and email the TA or professor. Only the TA or professor has full access. Upon being notified that file2.xls is to replace file1.xls, the professor can rename the new file to the required name of the file.

16 Students use Excel to record the data Naming conventions – Two tabs exist with SAS variable names from the Survey Form across the top row ready for data entry – One tab is the students own responses – One tab is for recording the 30 interviews – Data naming consistency will allow SAS to remotely read and merge all survey results in one

17 Students use PROC IMPORT to read the Excel spreadsheet data into SAS In their first writing assignment they are to provide something of interest in a tabular form from the responses of their survey. – The goal is that every student is successful with importing SAS, coding the responses and producing a table, and interpreting the evidence. – PROC FREQ and PROC TABULATE are the primary procedures used, but PROC MEANS may also play a role if the variables are quantified. Every step of the way, the students are required to write professionally and in the style of the eventual senior project.

18 The Professor, using SAS, imports all of the students Spreadsheets and combines then into one SAS database. Key Variables – Class – UAnetID – Year Three years of data available so far. A common resource data book is created

19 Students are now formed into teams to conduct a research study using the data from all three years. – Research questions – Tabular analysis required – Student with econometrics encouraged to do more. – Write professionally text and tables. – Teams present their research for peer grading and questioning. – The class undertakes an evaluation and discusses what might make a better research study. – Constant reminders of their Senior Project.

20 Class 2009 Class 2010 Class 2011 Public 2009 Public 2010 Public 2011 Mean error -0.4 0.00.42.342.654.94 Std 0.50.11.4710.87.614.3 n 161722449467415 Econ Public 2009 Econ Public 2010 Econ Public 2011 No Econ Public 2009 No Econ Public 2010 No Econ Public 2011 Mean error 0.7 1.64.63.53.75.2 Std 6.05.915.5713.58.913.2 n 205239182241228233 Who knows the actual unemployment rate?

21 Class 2009 Class 2010 Class 2011 Public 2009 Public 2010 Public 2011 Growing or slowly growing 56 7691344041 No growth 13125182324 declining 31125483735 Econ Public 2009 Econ Public 2010 Econ Public 2011 No Econ Public 2009 No Econ Public 2010 No Econ Public 2011 Growing or slowly growing 314243353839 No growth 241728133021 declining 454129513239 How is the economy doing now?

22 Class 2009 Class 2010 Class 2011 Public 2009 Public 2010 Public 2011 5654 2227 Econ Public 2009 Econ Public 2010 Econ Public 2011 No Econ Public 2009 No Econ Public 2010 No Econ Public 2011 2126 2226 Percentage believing Economists are Generally Right Class > Econ-Public = No-Econ-Public

23 Class 2009 Class 2010 Class 2011 Public 2009 Public 2010 Public 2011 75 7159474038 Econ Public 2009 Econ Public 2010 Econ Public 2011 No Econ Public 2009 No Econ Public 2010 No Econ Public 2011 60 46413235 Percentage Disagreeing that Capitalism has failed. Class > Econ-Public > No-Econ-Public

24 Class 2011Public 2011 Too Much 1427 Too little 2750 Econ Public 2011 No Econ Public 2011 Too Much 3025 Too little 4852 Government redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor is … Too much? Class < No-Econ-Public < Econ-Public Too little? Class < Econ-Public <= No-Econ-Public

25 LEFTRIGHTTOTAL Too Much 164526 Just right 152723 Too little 692823 n 126 (28.6%) 122 (27.7%) 440 Government redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor is … (based on your political leaning, 2011 only)

26 Class 2009Public 2009 Government responsible 62.544.8 Individuals responsible 37.555.2 Econ Public 2009 No Econ Public 2009 Government responsible 40.747.9 Individuals responsible 59.352.1 Which comes closer to your view about the provision of health insurance? Govt? Class > No-Econ-Public > Econ-Public

27 Class 2009 Class 2010 Class 2011 Public 2009 Public 2010 Public 2011 50 5332 384535 Econ Public 2009 Econ Public 2010 Econ Public 2011 No Econ Public 2009 No Econ Public 2010 No Econ Public 2011 43 4935334035 Percentage believing Government Provided Health Insurance is bad 2009 & 2010 Class > Econ-Public > No-Econ-Public But 2011 Class < Econ-Public = No-Econ-Public

28 Class 2009 Class 2010 Class 2011 Public 2009 Public 2010 Public 2011 1009482 Econ Public 2009 Econ Public 2010 Econ Public 2011 No Econ Public 2009 No Econ Public 2010 No Econ Public 2011 82 7274756975 Percentage believing increased use of technology in the work place is good Class > Econ-Public >= No-Econ-Public

29 Class 2009 Class 2010 Class 2011 Public 2009 Public 2010 Public 2011 8110086 Econ Public 2009 Econ Public 2010 Econ Public 2011 No Econ Public 2009 No Econ Public 2010 No Econ Public 2011 7157605650 Percentage believing free trade between countries is good Class > Econ-Public >= No-Econ-Public

30 Class 2009 Class 2010 Class 2011 Public 2009 Public 2010 Public 2011 878268 Econ Public 2009 Econ Public 2010 Econ Public 2011 No Econ Public 2009 No Econ Public 2010 No Econ Public 2011 61656160 53 Percentage believing a federal tax cut helps the economy 2009 & 2010 Class > Econ-Public = No-Econ-Public Then 2011 Class > Econ-Public > No-Econ-Public

31 Lessons learned – Students need a lot of support for research – This is a fun and engaging way to get them interested in research – More work needed on design and formatting of tables – Need more time on the research design – No students seized on the differences between those who took economics and those who did not. – A success as first research, but the evidence of the papers leave much room for improvement.

32 Teaching Economic Realities versus Perceptions using Surveys and SAS® Steven C. Myers Department of Economics The University of Akron myers@uakron.edu http://GoZips.UAkron.edu/~myers/scholarship


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