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Senior Capstone Projects and Demonstration of Competency Terry L. Olson Professor of Economics Truman State University For COPLAC Faculty Summer Institute.

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Presentation on theme: "Senior Capstone Projects and Demonstration of Competency Terry L. Olson Professor of Economics Truman State University For COPLAC Faculty Summer Institute."— Presentation transcript:

1 Senior Capstone Projects and Demonstration of Competency Terry L. Olson Professor of Economics Truman State University For COPLAC Faculty Summer Institute June 3-5, 2010 University of North Carolina -- Asheville

2 Hansen’s Expected Proficiencies for Economics Majors (1) Access existing knowledge (2) Display command of existing knowledge (3) Interpret existing knowledge (4) Interpret and manipulate economic data (5) Apply existing knowledge (6) Create new knowledge Hansen, W. Lee. “Expected Proficiencies for Undergraduate Economics Majors.” The Journal of Economic Education, Vol. 32, No. 3, (Summer, 2001), pp

3 Hansen’s Expected Proficiencies for Economics Majors 1. Access existing knowledge: Retrieve information on particular topics and issues in economics. Locate published research in economics and related fields. Track down economic data and data sources. Find information about the generation, construction, and meaning of economic data.

4 Hansen’s Expected Proficiencies for Economics Majors 2. Display command of existing knowledge: Explain key economic concepts and describe how these concepts can be used. Write a precis of a published journal article. Summarize in a two-minute monologue or in a 500-word written statement what is known about the current condition of the economy and its out-look. Summarize the principal ideas of an eminent economist. Elaborate a recent controversy in the economics literature. State the dimensions of a current economic policy issue.

5 Hansen’s Expected Proficiencies for Economics Majors 3. Interpret existing knowledge: Explain and evaluate what economic concepts and principles are used in economic analyses published in daily newspapers and weekly news magazines. Describe how these concepts aid in understanding these analyses. Do the same for nontechnical analyses written by economists for general purpose publications (e.g., Challenge, Brookings Review, The Public Interest).

6 Hansen’s Expected Proficiencies for Economics Majors 4. Interpret and manipulate economic data: Explain how to understand and interpret numerical data found in published tables such as those in the annual Economic Report of the President. Be able to identify patterns and trends in published data such as those found in the Statistical Abstract of the United States. Construct tables from already available data to illustrate an economic issue. Describe the relationship among three different variables (e.g., unemployment, prices, and GDP). Explain how to perform and interpret a regression analysis that uses economic data.

7 Hansen’s Expected Proficiencies for Economics Majors 5. Apply existing knowledge: Prepare an organized, clearly written five-page analysis of a current economic problem. Assess in a four-page paper the costs and benefits of an economic policy issue. Prepare a two-page memorandum that recommends action on an economic policy issue.

8 Hansen’s Expected Proficiencies for Economics Majors 6. Create new knowledge: Formulate questions that illuminate a new economic issue that needs to be researched. Prepare a five-page proposal for a research project. Conduct a research study, presenting the results in a polished 20-page paper. Conduct a group research project that prepares a detailed research proposal and/or a finished research paper

9 Expert Panel Recommendation for the Association of American Colleges (1991) “ To complete the process of Intellectual maturation, every student should be required to apply what he or she has learned to an economic problem and, in the process, acquire experience really “doing economics.’ For a particular intellectual encounter to accomplish this goal, it should involve considerable responsibility on the student’s part for formulating questions, gathering information, structuring and analyzing information, and drawing and communicating conclusions to others in an oral and/or written form.” Siegfried, John J., Robin L. Bartlett, W. L. Hansen, Allen C. Kelley, Donald N. McCloskey, and Thomas H. Tietenberg. “ The Status and Prospects of the Economics Major.” Journal of Economic Education 22 (Summer 1991),

10 More from Siegfried, et. al (1991), “The typical economics curriculum rarely provides any kind of culminating experience. Some programs, about 7 percent, almost all located in selective liberal arts colleges, require a major research paper or thesis, the final stage in a student's transition from neophyte to independent thinker. The comprehensive senior examination is found mainly in small liberal arts colleges, and in only a quarter of them. Even less common is the senior seminar, offering students the opportunity to integrate ideas gathered from various courses.” “A few programs, about 6 percent, also require a course in econometrics. “

11 Some Recent National Findings “Although writing assignments are a labor-intensive process, over 70 percent of departments reported having a formal writing requirement for the economics major. … The two most common requirements were a formally designated writing intensive course (i.e., writing across the curriculum; 35 percent) and a senior seminar with a significant writing component (31 percent). Much less frequent was a course dedicated to the research process (15 percent), the simple completion of a term paper (8 percent), or a written comprehensive exam (6 percent).” McGoldrick, KimMarie. “Writing Requirements and Economic Research Opportunities in the Undergraduate Curriculum: Results from a Survey of Departmental Practices.” Journal of Economic Education Summer 2008,

12 More from McGoldrick (2008) “…departments at liberal arts institutions were generally more likely to implement writing requirements. Thus, it is not simply the time intensity of such requirements that leads to differences in requirements; more likely it is the differences in focus of faculty time across these institution types that result from publishing pressures and participation in graduate programs.”

13 More from McGoldrick (2008) “A few courses are natural environments for developing writing and research skills, including econometrics, research methods, and senior seminar courses. In the present study, survey results showed that just less than 40 percent of departments required an econometrics course, with little difference across institution types. Students were required to take a senior seminar course at 64 percent of liberal arts institutions but at only 38 and 31 percent of master’s and national universities, respectively. Few departments (9.8 percent) required a course that was specifically designated as “research methods.”

14 COPLAC Data Of the 21 COPLAC schools that offer some kind of economics major: At least 9 (42.85%) require some kind of Capstone, be it a Senior Seminar, a Senior Thesis. At least 10 (47.62%) require Econometrics or its equivalent in at least some of the degrees they offer.

15 Truman State University as an Example

16 ECON Senior Seminar in Economics New Catalog description: The capstone experience for the economics major. Students produce an empirical research paper on an economic topic of their choosing, based on sound theoretical foundations and a review of the relevant literature, and give a PowerPoint presentation on their project. Students are presented information on graduate and professional school opportunities in economics and related disciplines and career opportunities for those with undergraduate and graduate degrees in economics. A section of the course focuses on the major professional awards conferred upon prominent economists, the recipients of those awards, and contributions to economics of those who have been recognized by these prizes. This course will also give students an appreciation of the widespread applicability of economics in the modern world and make them think about how and why economists may be different from others. Prerequisites: completion of or concurrent registration in ECON 300, ECON 303, and ECON 373 or STAT 378; junior or senior economics major or minor. Credits: 3 hours When Offered: (offered fall only) NOTE: This is a writing-enhanced course.

17 The student learning outcomes for the economics discipline at Truman State University. KNOWLEDGE Develop an appreciation and understanding of: –the rational choice paradigm and its application –the importance of incentives for understanding human behavior –the moral and ethical challenges within real world situations –equity vs. efficiency tradeoffs –microeconomics, macroeconomics, and other sub fields –the connections between economics and other disciplines –the analysis of public policy issues - the historical origins and development of the theoretical frameworks.

18 The student learning outcomes for the economics discipline at Truman State University SKILLS Develop proficiency in the following modeling and problem solving skills: Basic Skills –clear and effective writing skills –persuasive arguments –literature (including book and article) reviews –research papers –clear and effective oral communication skills –critical thinking skills –relevant computer skills

19 The student learning outcomes for the economics discipline at Truman State University SKILLS Develop proficiency in the following modeling and problem solving skills: Research and Analytical skills –data acquisition –developing hypotheses –constructing models –weighing evidence -- evaluating theories

20 The student learning outcomes for the economics discipline at Truman State University Attitudes Develop an appreciation of the pervasive application of economic thinking and reasoning to real world problems. Develop an appreciation for the impact of increasing globalization on international cooperation. Develop an appreciation for issues of diversity.

21 Texts: A. Required: Greenlaw, Steven A., Doing Economics: A Guide to Understanding and Carrying Out Economic Research, Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Co., (Greenlaw is a faculty member at COPLAC member the University of Mary Washington in Virginia) B. Recommended: Ramanathan, Ramu. Introductory Econometrics with Applications. Fifth Edition. Mason, Ohio: South-Western, 2002.

22 II. Additional Required Readings A. The Sociology and Anthropology of Economics Bahn, Henry, and George McDowell. “Tribal Ritual among the Ag-econ.” Review of Agricultural Economics 19, No. 2 (Autumn-Winter, 1997), Horn, Robert N., Jerome, Robert T., and Kristina Turkun. “Life among the Subecon: The Pon Farr Koon Ut Kal If Ee Rituals.” Review of Radical Political Economics 40, No. 2 (Spring 2008), Leijonhufud, Axel. “Life Among the Econ.” Western Economic Journal 11, No. 3 (September 1973),

23 II. Additional Required Readings B.The Nobel Prize in Economics Wirtz, Ronald A. “The Beauty (Pageant?) of Economics. The Nobel Prize in Economics: A report on how the winner of prize is determined, with thoughts from past Nobel Prize winners.” The Region. The Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, September 1999.

24 II. Additional Required Readings C.Graduate School in Economics Campbell, Doug. “Economist, Study Thyself: The way economists are trained has come a long way in the past 20 years. Has it come far enough?” Region Focus. Spring/Summer 2008, 16 – 21. Colander, David C., and Arjo Klamer. "The Making of an Economist." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 1, No. 2 (Fall 1987), Colander, David. “The Making of an Economist Redux.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 19, No. 1 (Winter 2005), 175 – 198.

25 II. Additional Required Readings E.Empirical Methods Kennedy, Peter E. “Sinning in the Basement: What Are the Rules? The Ten Commandments of Applied Econometrics.” Journal of Economic Surveys 16, No. 4, 2002, 569 – 589. Kennedy, Peter E. “Oh No! I Got the Wrong Sign! What Should I Do?” Journal of Economic Education 36, No. 1 (Winter 2005), 77 – 92.

26 III. Recommended readings F. Are Economists Different? If so, how and why? (or Is Studying Economics Bad for Society?) Carter, John and Michael Irons. “Are Economists Different, and If So, Why?” Journal of Economic Perspectives, Spring 1991, Vol. 5. No. 2, Frank, Björn and Günther G. Schulze. “How Tempting is Corruption? More Bad News About Economists.” Working Paper, University of Hohenheim, Frank, Robert, Thomas Gilovich and Dennis Regan. “Does Studying Economics Inhibit Cooperation? Journal of Economics Perspectives, Vol. 7, No. 2, Spring 1993,

27 III. Recommended readings F. Are Economists Different? If so, how and why? (or Is Studying Economics Bad for Society?) Frank, Robert, Thomas Gilovich and Dennis Regan. “Do Economists Make Bad Citizens?” Journal of Economics Perspectives, Vol. 10, No. 1, Winter 1996, Frey, Bruno.S., W. W. Pommerehne, and B. Gygi. “Economics Indoctrination or Selection? Some Empirical Results.” Journal of Economic Education, 24, No. 3, 1993, Frey, Bruno. S. and Stephan Meier. “Are Political Economists Selfish And Indoctrinated? Evidence From a Natural Experiment.” Economic Inquiry, 41(3), 2003,

28 III. Recommended readings F. Are Economists Different? If so, how and why? (or Is Studying Economics Bad for Society?) Frey, Bruno. S. and Stephan Meier. “Selfish And Indoctrinated Economists? European Journal of Law and Economics, 19, 2005, Gandal, Neil, Sonia Roccas, Lilach Sagiv, Amy Wrzesniewski. “Personal Value Priorities of Economists.” Working Paper, September Gross, Lauren. “Altruism, Fairness and Social Intelligence: Are Economists Different?” Undergraduate Thesis, Stanford University, June 1, 2005.

29 III. Recommended readings F. Are Economists Different? If so, how and why? (or Is Studying Economics Bad for Society?) Kirchgässner, Gebhard. “(Why) Are Economists Different?” Department of Economics, University of St. Gallen, December 2004 Discussion paper no Laband, David N. and Richard O. Beil. “Are Economists More Selfish than Other ‘Social’ Scientists?” Public Choice, 100, no. 1/2 (July 1999), Marwell, Gerald and Ruth Ames. “Economists Free Ride, Does Anyone Else? Experiments on the Provision of Public Goods.” Journal of Public Economics, 15, 1981, 295 – 310.

30 III. Recommended readings F. Are Economists Different? If so, how and why? (or Is Studying Economics Bad for Society?) Meier, Stephan and Bruno S. Frey. “Do Business Students Make Good Citizens?” International Journal of the Economics of Business, 11, no. 2, (July, 2004), Rubinstein, Ariel. “A Skeptic’s Comment on the Study of Economics.” Economic Journal, 116 (March, 2006), C1-C9. Stanley, T. D. and Ume Tran “Economics Students Need Not Be Greedy: Fairness and the Ultimatum Game.” Journal of Socio-Economics, 27(6): pp Yezer, Anthony M., Robert S. Goldfarb, Paul J. Poppen. “Does Studying Economics Discourage Cooperation? Watch What we do, not what we say or How we Play” Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 10, No. 1. Winter 1996, pp

31 III. Recommended readings G. Economics Applications to Study Other Areas: Anderton, Charles H., and John R. Carter. “Applying Intermediate Microeconomics to Terrorism.” College of the Holy Cross, Department of Economics Faculty Research Series, Working Paper No August Iannoccone, Lawrence R. “Introduction to the Economics of Religion.” Journal of Economic Literature, 36, No. 3 (Sept., 1998), Kahn, Lawrence M. “The Sports Business as a Labor Market Laboratory.” Journal of Economic Perspectives, 14, No. 3 (Summer, 2000), Sandler, Todd and Walter Enders. Transnational Terrorism: An Economic Analysis. August 2004.

32 III. Recommended readings H. Some of David Warsh’s Weekly on-line Economics Principals Columns Available at: The Ghosts StoryMarch 17, 2002 Wind-Tunnel EconomicsApril 14, 2002 The Vital ManyOctober 13, 2002 A Short History of the Clark MedalMay 4, 2003 The Generation of EconomicsOctober 5, 2003 Not Your Father’s Nobel PrizeOctober 12, 2003 The Man Who Became KeynesNovember 16, 2003 Our MarshallDecember 28, 2003 And The Winner Is...October 10, 2004

33 III. Recommended readings H. Some of David Warsh’s Weekly on-line Economics Principals Columns Available at: A Day in the Life of Ed PrescottOctober 17, 2004 What Can You Tell Me That I Don’t Already Know?January 9, 2005 The Man Who Succeeded GerschenkronApril 24, 2005 Paul Samuelson, ColumnistMay 22, 2005 The Complementary TaskOctober In Which Economics Enters a Period of Critical Self-ExaminationDecember 11, 2005 At the Summer InstituteJuly 16, 2006 The RealistOctober 15, 2006

34 III. Recommended readings H. Some of David Warsh’s Weekly on-line Economics Principals Columns Available at: Value AddedOctober 22, 2006 Unintended ConsequencesJanuary 28, 2007 Clark Medal to Susan AtheyApril 22, 2007 The Road to a System that Works (Without Shooting People)October 21, 2007 A Normal ProfessorJune 1, 2008 He Changed EconomicsJuly 27, 2008 The Professor and the ColumnistOctober 19, 2008 Get a Grip On ItOctober 11, 2009 The Student of Working TogetherOctober 18, 2009 Paul Samuelson’s LegacyDecember 20, 2009

35 Some of the course assignments Economics and Other Disciplines (Essay on Economic Applications) Topic and annotated bibliography for empirical research project (two graded drafts) Empirical Methods Take Home Test –There is an ungraded practice one that they get the answers to and then the actual test Literature review on topic of student's research project (two graded drafts) Hand in hypotheses and specification of empirical model minute oral presentation of hypotheses and specification of empirical model Hand in data used in project and sources of data Nobel Laureate Essay Written empirical research project (two graded drafts) Oral presentation of empirical research project Serve as discussants on presentations of others


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