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DEE 07 The Realities of Economics: Engaging undergraduate students in the intelligent conversation of the nation Alan Hutton & David Donald Glasgow Caledonian.

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Presentation on theme: "DEE 07 The Realities of Economics: Engaging undergraduate students in the intelligent conversation of the nation Alan Hutton & David Donald Glasgow Caledonian."— Presentation transcript:

1 DEE 07 The Realities of Economics: Engaging undergraduate students in the intelligent conversation of the nation Alan Hutton & David Donald Glasgow Caledonian University

2 DEE 07 Digital audio - Spoken Word & Talking Economics Pedagogy - constructivist & student- centred Economics - the need to engage with the real world Economic conversations: academics; policy practitioners; citizens Using digital audio to help bring students into the conversation

3 DEE 07 Spoken Word Services 1 Processes: Retrieval, processing, copyright clearance and curation of audio (& video) and metadata from the BBC & other sources Repository & metadata management Building tools & processes to allow learners to take advantage of our media Developing pedagogical principles to allow the integration of audio (& video) into teaching

4 DEE 07 Spoken Word Services 2 Outputs include: Curated audio & video podcasts Public (educational) access to a wide range of BBC and 3rd party content Improvements in scholarly communication & dialogue (blogs, wikis & annotation

5 DEE 07 Talking Economics mini-project 2004 With the support of the HEA Economics Network and drawing on the resources of Spoken Word Services we have built an audio collection in economics and integrated audio items into our teaching learning approaches in a range of economics/politcal economy modules. So far over 150 items of digitised audio have been collected from the historic (Beveridge, Robbins, Cairncross, Myrdal, Galbraith etc) to the current (inc. recent issues of File on 4, Analysis, In Business, and sections from the Today Programme).

6 DEE 07 Pedagogy 1 Our approach attempts to get beyond the objectivist epistemology of the modern post-enlightenment period with its notions of neutrality, objectivity and detachment. It is constuctivist (rather than instructivist), allowing multiple views of reality, and concerned with formation rather than information

7 DEE 07 Pedagogy 2 The Hale Committee Report on University Teaching [1964] argued that it is the function of a university education not simply to equip the student with expert knowledge, but also, and even more importantly, to teach him to think for himself, to work on his own, and (paraphrasing) to contribute his work to the work of groups.

8 DEE 07 Pedagogy 3 Effective learning must be active and is best seen as a social product of conversations within learning communities. We have argued that a web-based CIT intensive learning environment allows us to gain many of the benefits of the traditional Oxbrdge model in an age of mass higher education.

9 DEE 07 Economics & the Real World 1 Our position is that orthodox economics is subject to all the problems clearly set out in Andrew Mearmans report [Economics Network, 2007]. It is… methodologically individualistic; assumes individuals are rational maximisers economistic in the senses that economic behaviour can be usefully abstracted (exogenising everything else) and that the economic value of efficiency trumps all other considerations; a-historical, taking no account of the significance of social institutions, culture and power in real existing economies often naively unaware of its ideological dimensions

10 DEE 07 Economics & the Real World 2 A demand for realism We wish to escape from imaginary worlds…(T)his gap…this disregard for concrete realities, poses an enormous problem for those who would like to render themselves useful to economic and social actors Post Autistic Economics Petition, June, 2000 []

11 DEE 07 Economics & the Real World 3 The studies in this volume indicate that Britains economic malaise stems largely from its productivity problem, whose origins lie deep in the social system… Caves & Krause eds. (1980) Britains Economic Performance Brookings Institution

12 DEE 07 Economics & the Real World 4 Where reality fails to conform with the assumptions of the model and policy measures do not work the response of orthodox economics is to try to change reality rather than theory: For example: investment incentives in the 1970s switching in the liberalised domestic energy markets

13 DEE 07 We accept the Robinson and Eatwell (1973) view of the Nature of Economics:...economics has three aspects or functions - to try to understand how an economy operates, to make proposals for improving it, and to justify the criterion by which improvement is judged. The criterion of what is desirable necessarily involves moral and political judgements. Economics can never be a perfectly pure science unmixed with human values. Thus: economics is an applied social science whose success is to be j udged by how well economists explanations and prescriptions map on to reality - resulting in improved social wel-being economics is a moral science… [Boulding, 1969], and necessarily ideological… [Heilbroner, 1996]

14 DEE 07 Economic Conversations 1 It may be useful to think of three overlapping types ofeconomic conversation academic discourse within the discipline interactions in policy communities involving experts, practitioners and politicians public discourse involving citizens at large the intelligent conversation of the nation

15 DEE 07 Economic Conversations 2 We might hope that all undergraduates who take at least one module of economics would become better placed to participate in public discourse as citizens - having gained Joan Robinsons desired benefit for studying (orthodox) economics: to avoid being fooled by economists. We might further hope that those, smaller in number, who go on to participate in policy-making and implementation in the public realm and in business might be similarly forearmed. It is for the benefit of these undergraduates that the approach to teaching and learning in economics should be designed.

16 DEE 07 What Digital Audio Offers Undergraduates Web-based digital audio.. adds dimensions which cannot be gained through more traditional print or web-based textual media gives students access to a wide range expertise and opinion in a real live form allows them to experience real economic conversations and gain insights into the relationships of economics to economic behaviour, policy, practice and interests through the use of BBC Radio audio introduces them to a realm of the intelligent conversation of the nation which many would otherwise never hear brings to life important aspects of the recent past for which most students have no feel

17 DEE 07 Approaches to the Use of Digital Audio Given the long-standing educational philosophy which we describe elsewhere [Donald et al 2000] our use of audio, especially in honours level modules with a political economy orientation has not required a change of approach. Our aim has been to integrate audio materials alongside more traditional text and on-line resources into student learning activitiesassessed and un- assessed. Future Directions of Development Include: introducing the use of tools for on-line sharing of audio extending from audio to video building a History of Economics Audio/Video Collection

18 Selected References & Resources 1 On knowledge, learning and the conversation metaphor Mearman A [2007] Teaching heterodox economics concepts EconomicNetwork ( Post-Autistic Economics: Fulbrook, E (ed) [2006] Real Wold Economics: A Post-Autistic Reader Anthem Press Cohen, P [2007] In Economics Departments, a Growing Will to Debate Fundamental Assumptions New York Times July 11 th Dow, A, Dow, S, & Hutton A [2000] Political economy and applied economics: the case of Scotland from the 1890s to the 1950s History of Political Economy, Annual Supplement to vol. 32 177-98

19 Selected References & Resources 2 Towards more realistic economics conversations Laurillard, D [2002] Rethinking University Teaching: a framework for the effective use of educational technology (2 nd ed) London: Routledge Phillips, R [2005] Challenging the primacy of lectures: the dissonance between theory and practice in university teaching Journal of University Teaching and Learning Practice 2 (1) Klamer, A [2007] Speaking of Economics: How to get in the conversation London: Routledge Donald, D, Hutton, A & Byrne J [2000] Towards a CIT intensive learning environment: supplementing a political economy module in Davies P et al (eds) Innovative Approaches to Learning and Teaching in Economics and Business Higher Education Staffordshire University Press

20 ABSTRACT The Realities of Economics: Engaging undergraduate students in the intelligent conversation of the nation Alan Hutton & David Donald Glasgow Caledonian University This paper draws on the experience of the Talking Economics mini-project which has helped integrate web-based audio materials (mainly from BBC sources) into the teaching learning approach to a range of undergraduate economics modules. It argues for a more 'realistic' economics education. If economics is seen as an essentially 'applied' social science-justified by its impact on human welfare-then it must address the 'nature' as well as the 'causes' of the wealth of nations. It is value-laden and prone to 'ideological' deployment. We suggest that using broadcast documentary and news-related materials to help engage students in the wider political economy of the debates which surround public and business policy can help move economics learning away from the world of a closed community applying abstract axiomatic 'principles' towards a consciousness of both the empirical and value contexts in which economic ideas are used. Introducing students to the realm of serious broadcasting which carries the 'intelligent conversation' within which the conventional wisdom is made, propagated and, hopefully, contested will in itself help to develop a 'political economy of citizenship'.

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