How 'The Big Short' Flipped a Traditional Principles of Macroeconomics Course: Teaching to a Dominant Event in Students' Lives
21 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2017
Date Written: March 16, 2017
After the financial crisis, macroeconomics became an unsettled discipline raising pedagogical challenges as to how to teach principles courses. This article concerns a principles of economics course that was initially taught with traditional methods. After students performed poorly during the initial course period, and engagement and attendance was subpar, it was discovered that most students, though young, were deeply affected by, and emotionally invested in, the financial crisis that caused the Great recession. They were also conversant with, and enthusiastic about, popular movies related to the crisis. Therefore, the class was flipped to teach to the dominant macroeconomic event in students’ lives—the financial crisis. The notion of teaching to seminal economic events that loom large in student cognition is the primary pedagogical contribution of this article. The tools were 1) the flipped classroom; 2) experiential learning; 3) the use of popular movies as teaching tools; and 4) the requirement of a major research paper to solidify the learning from innovative techniques. This approach substantially raised student grades, resulted in a dramatic rise in attendance and student engagement, and demonstrably enhanced the creative and critical thinking of students.
Keywords: Movies in Education, Experiential Learning, Flipped Classroom
JEL Classification: A22, B22, E00, G01
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation