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Active Learning in the Economics Classroom Tisha Emerson Baylor University October 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Active Learning in the Economics Classroom Tisha Emerson Baylor University October 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Active Learning in the Economics Classroom Tisha Emerson Baylor University October 2011

2 Overview Why does our choice of pedagogy matter? Some Active Learning Techniques ▫Classroom Experiments ▫Cooperative Learning Assessment Other active learning strategies

3 Why does our choice of pedagogy matter?

4 Why does our pedagogy matter? Consider your experiences as ▫Students ▫Teachers

5 Our pedagogy affects … Both Inductive and Deductive Reasoning Material Retention Significant Learning Pluralism Engagement

6 Inductive vs. Deductive Reasoning (Kolb, 1984)

7 Lecture Reading 10% Audiovisual 20% Demonstration 30% Discussion 50% Practice doing Teach others 90% 5% Material Retention

8 Significant Learning (Fink, 2003)

9 How do Economists teach Economics? According to Watts and Becker (2008), in 2005 the median economics instructor ▫always or almost always used traditional lecturers (i.e. chalk-and-talk), ▫frequently used instructor-student discussion, but ▫rarely used any other, in-class pedagogical techniques.

10 Classroom Experiments

11 Classroom experiments place students in roles where they make economic decisions. Their choices generate data for later analysis and debriefing in the class. Through the interchange and subsequent debriefing, students uncover economic concepts for themselves.

12 Aplia Experiments …



15 Why use classroom experiments? Evidence suggests that experiments lead to higher student achievement and learning. ▫Gremmen & Potters (1997); Frank (1997) ▫Emerson & Taylor (2004, 2007) ▫Dickie (2006) ▫Ball et al. (2006) ▫Durham et al. (2007) Experiments increase student involvement and discussion. Experiments can foster a sense of community in the classroom. They are fun! Both students and instructors enjoy them.

16 Best Practices with Experiments Experiments should be run prior to presentation of concepts in class. Instructions should be distributed ahead of time when possible and then reviewed by the instructor prior to the start of the experiment. Motivation for students to participate in a rational manner can come in a variety of forms, but should be provided in some form. Active participation by all students (as opposed to a small group) promotes greater insight and results in more fun for all. The instructor is a facilitator and should not direct or suggest student behavior in any way. Debriefing and follow-up exercises are necessary to promote understanding.

17 Logistical Issues Hand-run or Computerized? Class size constraints Time constraints How many experiments? How to motivate students? What data to collect and how to collect it?

18 Classroom Experiment Sources Hand-run, face-to-face ▫Bergstrom and Miller’s Experiments with Economic Principles (Mc-Graw Hill) ▫Journal of Economic Education ▫Charlie Holt ( ▫Games Economists Play ( Computerized and/or Online ▫Holt’s VeconLab ( ▫Aplia ( ▫EconPort (

19 Cooperative Learning

20 Cooperative Learning (CL) Cooperative learning is the use of small group work where students work together to maximize their own learning as well as that of their peers.

21 Why use Cooperative Learning? Students who engage in cooperative learning learn significantly more, remember it longer, and develop better critical-thinking skills than their counterparts in traditional lecture classes. Students enjoy cooperative learning more than traditional lecture classes, so they are more likely to attend classes and finish the course. Students are going to go on to jobs that require teamwork. Cooperative learning helps students develop the skills necessary to work on projects too difficult and complex for any one person to do in a reasonable amount of time.

22 Key Elements for Successful CL - PIES Cooperative Learning Exercises should be structured to include: ▫Positive interdependence ▫Individual accountability ▫Equal participation ▫Simultaneous interaction

23 Important Steps in Developing and Implementing CL Exercises Pre-instructional Planning Introduce Activity to Students Monitoring Closure Practical considerations Through careful development, cooperative learning exercises can avoid free riding problems.

24 Examples of CL Exercises Think-Pair-Share Note-taking Pairs Send-a-Problem Larger scale projects ▫Example: International Trade Project Is there a relationship between trade and quality of life? If so, what?

25 Help students understand the research process Develop students’ research skills (including hypothesis formation, data gathering and analysis) Improve students’ evaluative skills by examining trade theories in light of data Build students’ oral and written communication skills through reporting their research findings and working collectively on a project Project Learning Goals

26 Individual Data Collection and Analysis ▫Students collect and analyze the data for a specified set of countries. They then write a short report summarizing the data and identifying trends and possible correlations. Individual Country Report ▫Each student writes a report on a country of their choice – focusing on the trade participation of that country. Cooperative Learning – Group Research ▫Student groups develop a hypothesis regarding the relationship between the trade participation and quality of life in a set of countries. Group Reports (written & oral) ▫Each group presents their findings in written and oral format. The Project

27 Student Evaluation of the Project MeanMode I feel that I learned a lot from the project as a whole (data collection, country report, group report). 4.465 I enjoyed working in a group. 4.154 I would have preferred to have all of the parts of the project assigned as individual work (i.e. no group work). 1.921 I would have preferred to create my own group rather than having groups assigned. 2.543 I learned more working in a group than I would have alone. 4.004 I would have preferred to have all of the parts of the project assigned as group work (i.e. no individual work). 2.232 *Scale: (5) strongly agree, (3) neutral, (1) strongly disagree

28 Assessment

29 Grading Department & Discount Stores 200520062007200820092010 Kohl's80 79807981 Dollar General78757980 J.C. Penney78 77787980 Dillard's7675767578 Target7877 8078 Macy's747175747176 Sears73 72 7475 Wal-Mart72 68707173 Scores are on a 100-point scale. Source: American Consumer Satisfaction Index, University of Michigan,

30 How do you grade a department/discount store? Performance/Quality Indicators ▫Quality of products ▫Quality/speed of service ▫Price ▫Availability of products ▫Shopping experience Aggregating up: ranking importance of indicators

31 What are some similar challenges when grading a store and grading students? Small sample problem Defining the characteristics over which you will aggregate.

32 Summative Assessment Used to judge and grade student work for a level of mastery or achievement.

33 Formative Assessment Provides continuous feedback to shape learning and direct instruction.

34 Other Strategies

35 Other Active Learning Strategies Discussion (Discussing Economics, Salemi & Hansen) Cases Personal Response Devices (“Clickers”) Context Rich Problems For information on any of these strategies see Starting Point at

36 Thank you! If I can ever be of assistance, please let me know: 254-710-4180

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