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Symposium 2013

Solution for The Future of Economics Teaching

The Challenge

Economists are asking the great questions that motivated the discipline when it began – questions of growth, distribution, behavior and instability. The field is booming in terms of methods. Field a ...

Economists are asking the great questions that motivated the discipline when it began – questions of growth, distribution, behavior and instability. The field is booming in terms of methods. Field and lab experiments have been introduced and advances in empirical analysis allow policy interventions to be evaluated. Economics has never been more central to the discussion of the major policy issues that animate the public. But economists are in disrepute. And economics teaching is under pressure to change. There are three sources of pressure. The public, policy-makers and employers blame economists for complacency prior to the crisis. Some complain that the undergraduate curriculum is training candidates for admission to PhD programs and is too narrow and technical for the majority who will work in business and government. Students are forming new student societies to press for teaching more relevant to today’s serious economic problems. Teachers themselves feel the pressure from students. They are discomforted by the gap between what they teach and the last 3-decades of developments that frame their research, and are anxious about the potential of the new disruptive technology of MOOCs (massive open on-line courses).

Improve teaching methods to engage students of economics more effectively

In addition to changing course content, teaching methods should be improved. This might include the use of active, participatory teaching tools such as classroom experiments both to engage students and to integrate recent research findings with the development of moral reasoning. Other potential improvements included training in fieldwork, and group learning.

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