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An Investigation into the Application of Economics Threshold Concepts using WinEcon via a VLE for Business Students Economics Network Mini Project Mike.

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Presentation on theme: "An Investigation into the Application of Economics Threshold Concepts using WinEcon via a VLE for Business Students Economics Network Mini Project Mike."— Presentation transcript:

1 An Investigation into the Application of Economics Threshold Concepts using WinEcon via a VLE for Business Students Economics Network Mini Project Mike Walsh Keith Gray Coventry University ref: DEE winthresh3 sept 07 ver4 U/L/D

2 (1) Introduction Builds upon two Fund for the Development of Teaching and Learning 5 projects (FDTL5) –Embedding threshold concepts in first year undergraduate economics –Beyond dissemination strategies: Embedding computer based learning and effective use of WinEcon and VLEs WinEcon extensively used at Coventry University, particularly on business degrees

3 Business students find certain threshold concepts relatively difficult. Consider: –Opportunity cost –Marginal analysis –Multiplier Promote understanding and working knowledge (Salami 2005) Mini project

4 (2) Project Aims Investigate feasibility of embedding selected threshold concepts using WinEcon via a VLE for business students Develop relevant teaching materials Assess how students understanding of these concepts changes as a result of embedding Investigate possibility of embedding a wider range of threshold concepts

5 (3) Methodology 3 seminar groups, 1 being a control group Introduce a threshold concept in lecture 2 research groups undertake exercise with hyperlinks to WinEcon

6 (4) Implementation Stage I (week2) The threshold concept of opportunity cost introduced in lectures

7 Stage II (week 4) Baseline questions issued To ensure completion –Concise –In labs Three questions covered –a) a perceived understanding of the concept, –b) selecting a definition of the concept –c) an application of the concept.

8 Stage III (week eight) All three groups covered material on opportunity cost in order to reinforce the lecture –Short case study considering the opportunity cost of examination revision Two research groups undertook WinEcon activity; Allocation of a health budgetAllocation of a health budget –Verbal and written feedback

9 Stage IV (week nine) All three groups were given the baseline questions again Process repeated for multiplier in term two

10 (5) Web-linking Instructions on Using weblinks Creating weblinks

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14 (6) Implementation issues Insufficient workshop time for marginal analysis Problems with hyperlinks Compliance –Non-attendance –Matching –Motivation Unanticipated benefits incl. –Move from unrealistic WinEcon pricing structure Downloading to individual (registered) students pioneered at Coventry University

15 (7) Evaluation Students understanding: –Opportunity cost & Multiplier –Baseline…3 questions (confidence / definition / application) –Given immediate feedback –4 weeks later = winecon link (research groups) or alternative (control group) –Follow up on 3 baseline questions 1 week later –Data is for matched pairs only

16 BaselineFollow up% Research group 1 N= 11 45%64%+ 40% Research group 2 (p/t) N = 16 63%88%+ 40% Control group N = 13 62%69%+ 12.5% Table 7.1: Percentage of Students Certain of Understanding (recording 4 or 5 on Likert scale): Opportunity Cost Relative hubris among 2 nd research group (age/ exp./ motivation?) Notable that % change matched & highest for research groups

17 BaselineFollow up% Δ Research group 1 N = 11 81% 0 Research group 2 p/t N = 16 N = 13 88% 77% 94% 77% + 7% 0 Table 7.2: % of Students giving correct definition: Opportunity Cost Control group Only research group 2 improved Students found question easier than anticipated

18 BaselineFollow up% Δ Research group 1 N = 11 72%81%+12.5% Research group 2 p/t N = 16 Control group N = 13 94% 62% 94% 69% % Table 7.3: % of students giving correct application: Opportunity Cost Notable 1 st research group & control had same % gain 2 nd research group continued to be strongest in general

19 BaselineFollow up% Research group 1 N= 6 17%50%+ 200% Research group 2 (p/t) N = 13 31%85%+ 175% Control group N = 6 17%50%+ 200% Table 7.4: Percentage of Students Certain of Understanding (recording 4 or 5 on Likert scale): Multiplier Notably lower confidence re multiplier concept Again hubris for 2 nd research group (p/t) Small numbers make % change difficult to interpret

20 BaselineFollow up% Δ Research group 1 N = 6 50%33%- 33% Research group 2 p/t N = 13 Control group N = 6 54% 50% 85% 83% + 57% + 40% Table 7.5: % of Students giving correct definition: Multiplier Equivalent performance across groups at baseline % change evidence mixed

21 BaselineFollow up% Δ Research group 1 N = 6 033% Research group 2 p/t N = 13 Control group N = 6 54% 0 62% 17% + 14% Table 7.6: % of students giving correct application: Multiplier Evidence inconclusive 2 nd research group did improve performance & stronger in general

22 (8) WinEcon survey Indicates –Students find WinEcon a useful learning aid –Links relatively easy to use

23 Source: Embedding computer based learning and effective use of WinEcon and VLEs FDTL5 project, WinEcon Survey for Year 1 Business students at Coventry, May 2007.

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28 (9) Conclusion Feasible to embed threshold concepts using WinEcon Students have improved access to WinEcon outside labs Teaching materials developed Students understanding of TCs inconclusive Could extend using more groups and threshold concepts

29 Bibliography Meyer J and Land R, (2002), Threshold Concepts and Troublesome Knowledge (1): linkages to ways of thinking and practicing within the disciplines, ISL 2002 Conceptual Paper. Salami M, (2003) Teaching Economic Literacy: Why, What and How', International Review of Economics Education, vol 4, issue 2.


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