Midwest Conference on Student Learning in Economics:
Innovation, Assessment and Classroom Research
November 4-5, 2004

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2004 Conference Proceedings
Keynote Address
John Morton
"The Essence of the Economic Way of Thinking"
Thursday November 4, 2004

Powerpoint slides
Video presentation (by Tegrity Presenter)

Which principles of economics are important for high school graduates to understand in order to make more effective decisions as consumers, producers, and citizens?  What are the consequences of ignorance of those basic tenets of economics?  This address will make the case that a knowledge of the economic way of thinking presents a world view that is not offered in other disciplines.  Economics helps students gain a sense of order and interconnection among the events in the world around them.

John Morton "Great Stuff for Teaching High-School Economics," Workshops,  Thursday November 4, 2004

No presentation available

The session describes effective curriculum materials for teaching high school economics as well as other resources that will help not only the high school economics teacher but also other teachers who wish to infuse economics into their discipline.  The latest teaching materials will be demonstrated.  This is hands-on stuff you can use.

Keynote Address
W. Lee Hansen
"The Architecture and Artistry of a Proficiencies Based Economics Major"
  Thursday November 5, 2004

Keynote overheads in word 
Keynote overheads in html
Video presentation

If we want to enhance student learning in economics and we conclude that developing students' proficiencies in the economics major is the most effective approach to doing so, it is important to pay attention to both the architecture of the curriculum and the artistry of the teaching-learning process. The work of developing proficiencies must ultimately be done in the classroom, but that work cannot be successful until the proficiencies approach is thoroughly embedded in the economics major and ideally in the college curriculum. At the same time, imparting these proficiencies requires a different and one might even say an artistic approach to classroom teaching and instruction. The essentials of this approach are elaborated in this presentation.

Lee Hansen "A Structured Approach to Discussing Economics" Workshop, Thursday November 5, 2004

Workshop overheads in word
Workshop overheads in html

Participants in this workshop will learn how to organize and conduct a structured discussion of an insightful reading that will advance their understanding of economics while at the same time enhancing their proficiencies in the major. The workshop will be based on the materials developed by Mike Salemi and Lee Hansen in a forthcoming book, Discussing Economics: A Classroom Guide to Preparing Discussion Questions and Leading Discussion (Elgar, 2005). A short reading will be posted on the Conference Webpage; participants should read this selection prior to the Workshop session. However, copies will also be available at the Active Learning Workshop session.

Keynote Address
Peter Kennedy
"Common mistakes made in classroom research"
ITL Visiting Scholar Lecture Sponsored by the Institute for Teaching and Learning
Thursday November 5, 2004

Powerpoint presentation
Video of Presentation

In his fifteen years editing the research section of the Journal of Economic Education he has been favorably impressed with the wide range of imaginative ideas for research based on classroom data. He has been unpleasantly surprised, however, by how often this research suffers from faulty logic or statistical blunders. This presentation will discuss several examples of these, with an eye to improving the quality of such research.  Some of this presentation will draw on his 2002 Ten Commandments paper from the Journal of Economic Surveys.  This address will have relevency for all who engage in the scholarship of teaching and learning regardless of discipline.

Peter Kennedy "A Suggestion for Engaging Students in Tutorials" WorkshopsThursday November 5, 2004

Presentation not available

Often a key concept can be consolidated into a question with a small number of possible answers. Such questions can arise in class by design or by chance. Asking students to vote on the possible answers typically does not work - students withhold their votes. This can be overcome by asking each student in turn to vote and then moving to discussion. This presentation will discuss the benefits of doing this, the details of how it should be done, and illustrate the approach.

Dr. Green's Photo
Keynote Speaker -

John Green
“The Political and Economic Consequences of the 2004 Election”
 Thursday November 4, 2004

Video of Presentation

Dr. John C. Green is the Director of the Bliss Institute of Applied Politics and Distinguished Professor of Political Science.  Dr. Green’s political, economic and religious analysis of local and national elections have received wide national recognition and his work has been featured in numerous national media publications and popular television shows.

Fred Carr "Teaching and Meeting Ohio Economic State Standards Through the Internet"Workshops
 Thursday November 4, 2004

Website of the presentation

Dr. Fred M. Carr is Director of the University of Akron H. K. Barker Center for Economic Education.  He is the developer of the national website www.economiceducation.us and has presented extensively on assisting teachers in meeting the 144 Ohio Standards that require economic understanding.  Held in the wireless laptop computer classroom.

Sucharita Ghosh and Fancesco Renna, The University of Akron
Using ConcepTests and Peer Instruction to Improve Student Learning in Economics Workshops
  Thursday November 4, 2004

Presentation not available

Peer instruction has been successfully used in disciplines such as Chemistry and Physics in increasing student learning.  Peer instruction divides class time between short lectures and conceptual multiple-choice questions (ConcepTests).  ConcepTest questions are designed to evaluate student understanding of the fundamental concepts behind the lecture material.  Students are asked to consider a conceptest question and choose an answer.  An electronic personal response system registers students  answers and generates a histogram of responses.  Following their initial answer, students are given 1-2 minutes to discuss the reasons for their choice (peer instruction) in pairs or small groups before voting again.  This process results in an increase in the number of correct answers and an increase in student confidence in their answer choices.  During the workshop, we will demonstrate how conceptests can be implemented in any economics class.  A classroom atmosphere will be simulated and workshop participants will use keypads provided by eIntruction to answer multiple choice questions just like students would do in class.  Some preliminary results of the effectiveness of conceptests in two introductory classes of economics at The University of Akron will be presented. This research has been supported by the Center for Collaboration and Inquiry at The University of Akron.
Litsa Veronis, The Universiy of Akron
An Exercise in Hard ChoicesWorkshops Thursday November 4, 2004

Powerpoint presentation in pdf format

For over 20 years, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (www.crfb.org) has been sponsoring An Exercise in Hard ChoicesSM, a budget debate that asks participants to role-play members of Congress as they deliberate over the current year’s budget. The University of Akron is now piloting electronic versions of the Exercise and the Exercise scorecard in order to increase citizen and student access to the debate. 

 We invite you to use the Exercise with your classes, either in a traditional face-to-face version (normally taking three hours to complete) or in one of three electronic versions:

  1. An asynchronous version using WebCT (taking place over several weeks).
  2. A synchronous, computer-to-computer version using a Macromedia Flash Communications server.
  3. A synchronous, site-to-site version using Polycom video-teleconferencing.

The University of Akron and The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget can provide staff to moderate any version of the Exercise.  For more information, contact Dwight Bishop, Manager, Design and Development Services, The University of Akron (dbishop@uakron.edu, 330.972.6025).

Tod Porter, Youngstown State University
A Demonstration of MarketSim, an Internet-based Simulated Economy WorkshopsThursday November 5, 2004

Presentation not available

MarketSim consists of two economic simulations, a barter economy named Jeremy's Market and a market economy named Adam's Market. Students can participate in the two economies asynchronously over the Internet. In Jeremy's Market students are each assigned a household. Because the households have different utility and production functions they will find it advantageous to specialize in the production of one good and trade. In Adam's Market the student is responsible for both a household (which sells labor time and purchases goods) and a firm (which buys labor and sells output). Optionally, the instructor can also allow firms to purchase capital, change industries, and issue bonds.  This is a "hands-on" demonstration held in the wireless laptop computer classroom.

David Wheat, Virginia Western Community College
MacroLab:  An Interactive Learning Environment for Macroeconomics WorkshopsThursday November 5, 2004

Presentation not available

       This workshop will demonstrate a highly visual simulation software tool that helps capture the elusive dynamics of interaction and improves the learning of macroeconomics.  Called MacroLab, it is an interactive learning environment driven by a system dynamics model of a national economy.  It is currently used to teach both distance learning and classroom macroeconomics courses at a community college in Virginia, where three experiments to test its effectiveness are underway.

        The model makes use of the traditional circular flow of income and spending recast in behavioral stock and flow terms as the nominal  demand side  of an economic system.  The  supply side  features a system dynamics representation of aggregate flows of real goods and services--production and sales--buffered by an inventory stock.  Sales trends and inventory conditions provide information feedback that affects prices, production goals, and employment of labor and capital.  With real sales driven by nominal spending, and with nominal income driven by real production, the reinforcing feedback loop is closed between the demand and supply sides.  Numerous counteracting feedback loops moderate the system s behavior, with some contributing to business cycles.  The interface allows users to switch model sectors on and off, trigger various  shocks  to the system, and modify key parameter assumptions.
          The model economy takes shape weekly as the  story  feature of MacroLab displays and explains the structure of sectors being added to the model, and suggests new behavior that can be expected. After reading each story, students participate in simulation activities that compare behaviors of evolving structures while exploring traditional macroeconomics topics. They answer questions designed to assess understanding of model structure revealed in the story, they model behavior observed during simulation experiments, and they explore the connection between structure and behavior.  Students post their work online and receive instructor feedback soon thereafter.
        Workshop participants will  test drive  MacroLab and hear what students have to say.  They will also receive a demo CD, plus  quick start  training in the use of STELLA, a user-friendly, model-building simulation software package.  Preliminary findings on MacroLab s effectiveness as an instructional tool will be presented, and workshop attendees will be invited to participant in future experiments.

Contributed Paper Sessions

Reza Oladi,Utah State University
A Simulated Experiment of a Customs Union WorkshopsThursday November 5, 2004

Presentation not available

We present a numerical simulation model, implemented in Excel, which can be used to expand student understanding of the theory of customs unions. The model allows examination of core customs union issues including trade creation, trade diversion, and the Kemp-Wan theorem. By responding to an experimental assignment that guides students through the simulation, students are able to learn the theory in a hands-on manner. We also attempt to measure the effectiveness of our simulation on students  learning outcomes.  Participants will see how to implement trade policy problems in Excel into classroom.

Ileana Brooks, Aurora University
Education, Program and Course Outcomes WorkshopsThursday November 5, 2004

Word Document

With a new General Education Program at Aurora University stating specific outcomes and explicitly linking them to the university mission and values, Principles of Economics courses are not only now serving business students but university students that are supposed to achieve these new General Educations outcomes and values.  Since Business Program abilities/outcomes are also connected to the University Mission, the restructuring of the course outcomes, indicator and evaluations tools became more of a unifying task. In this paper, I present how General Education outcomes, program outcomes and course outcomes can be unified and achieved in principles of economics.  In addition, the challenges of finding effective evaluation tools of such outcomes are explored.  Students  perceptions of these tools are also discussed.

This presentation may offer a roadmap for those participants that are teaching Principles of Economics as a General Education course and have struggled in merging university/division/program outcomes.  Also, it will explore the different evaluation tools or assessment activities that have been used to assess these outcomes. 

Joseph K. Cavanaugh,Wright State University - LC
Reducing The Workload Of Teaching Economics Online WorkshopsThursday November 5, 2004

Presentation not available

Although the online teaching format continues to grow in popularity, faculty members teaching these courses are finding that this type of course places much larger demands on their time then a traditional format course.  This paper outlines a number of ways to reduce these time demands while not making sacrifices to the quality of the instruction or the student experience.  Specific examples will be discussed of how course design changes have significantly reduce the time demands of teaching two principle economics courses. Participants will leave with an outline containing specific examples of how to reduce the time demands of teaching economics online.  These examples will be particularly beneficial to faculty members who are considering developing their first online course.

Contributed Paper Sessions

James B. Mosby, University of Detroit Mercy
Teaching National Income Accounting  Contributer PaperThursday November 5, 2004

Presentation not available

Students of Macroeconomics will be better able to handle the analysis if they have a good understandig of the nature and significance of National Income Accounting. Starting from the basic idea that a price of some good or service is simply a payment to the factors of production and and remembering that Macroeconomics is divided into four specific sectors (Personal. Private, Public, and Foreign), the computation of GDP (by both the expenditure and income methods), National Income, and Disposable Income follows more logically with no memorizing. Students develop an a more in-depth understanding of how the economy is organized.

Starting with the Natioinal Income Accounting foundation, teachers can more easily move to analysis of Consumption Spending, Income Determination, Monetary and Fiscal Policy, International Linkages, etc.

James Luke, Lansing Community College
Adding Depth and Relevance to the Principles Course Contributer PaperThursday November 5, 2004

Presentation not available

One of the major costs when Principles of Economics courses are adapted to an online-environment is a loss of perceived relevance, interest, and applicaton by the student.  In the tradtional face-to-face lecture format, the lecturers themselves contribute significantly to students' achieving the "ah-ha!" moment. This paper examines  a work-in-progress in modifying the course design and requirements of the online course itself to re-inforce economic decision-making and to help the student reflect on their own decision-making.  The course design  requires students to consciously optimizing and trade-off decisions regarding their own study activities and their own opportunity costs. What at first appears to be a very unstructured course, turns out to be very helpful in developing literacy and skill in applying basic economic concepts such as opportunity costs, marginal decision making, and optimization.

Instructors of economics will learn of successful course design and policies that help achieve the goal of enabling students to use basic concepts such as opportunity costs and marginal decision-making in their own lives. 

The course design has the added benefits of:  (1) reducing professorial workload, and (2) providing a sound alternative to the work-intensive  "active learning" and writing designs that have not successfully improved economics learning outcomes.

Nozar Hashemzadeh and Ernie Wade, Radford University
Developing An OnLine Economics Course for MBA Candidates Contributer PaperThursday November 5, 2004

Word Paper

The authors have examined the pros and cons of on online course in basic economics for MBA candidates. The course will combine significant elements from both micro and macroeconomics. The main objective of the presentation is to highlight the importance of interactivity between the student and faculty, student engagement and assessment tools. A course has been developed and is scheduled for alpha testing in the Spring of 2004 academic year.

Technology Showcase

Steven C. Myers, The University of Akron.  Digital Pen Technologies in Lecture Presentations (live demonstrations of the Tablet PC and SMART Sympodium), Technology Showcase, Nov. 5, 2004

McGraw Hill classroom technologies, Technology Showcase, Demonstration, Nov. 5, 2004

Pearson Education classroom technologies, Technology Showcase, Demonstration, Nov. 5, 2004

Mary Ellen Mallia, RPI, Using Creativity to Teach Macroeconomic Indicators through Innovative Assessment, Technology Showcase, Poster Presentation, Nov. 5, 2004

Presentation not available

Dr. Veree Ethridge,University of St. Francis, Assessment through the syllabus, Technology Showcase, Poster Presentation, Nov. 5, 2004
One page description
Many attachments

James B. Heisler,Hope College, Economics for Non-Majors: Using Literature and Creative Projects, Technology Showcase, Poster Presentation, Nov. 5, 2004
Powerpoint presentation

Workshop presenters (a second look for classroom technologies presented earlier)

Sucharita Ghosh and Fancesco Renna, The University of Akron, Using ConcepTests and Peer Instruction to Improve Student Learning in Economics, Technology Showcase, Nov. 5, 2004

Litsa Veronis, The Universiy of Akron, An Exercise in Hard Choices, Technology Showcase, Nov. 5, 2004

Tod Porter, Youngstown State University, A Demonstration of MarketSim, an Internet-based Simulated Economy, Technology Showcase, Nov. 5, 2004

David Wheat, Virginia Western Community College,  MacroLab:  An Interactive Learning Environment for Macroeconomics, Technology Showcase, Nov. 5, 2004

Join us October 7-28, 2005 for the 3rd Annual Midwest Conference on Student Learning in Economics:  Innovation, Assessment and Classroom Research.