Is Sexy Economics and Economics Teaching Necessary or Sufficient?
11 Pages Posted: 25 Jan 2003
In several earlier papers and an edited volume on teaching economics to undergraduates, Bill Becker and I have argued that economists are, as a group, far more likely to teach using "chalk and talk" methods than instructors in other subject areas. We claim that reduces students' enjoyment and appreciation of basic economics, and quite possibly decreases the amount of economics they learn in the classes they do take, as well as the number of elective courses in economics they go on to take after completing the principles classes that are typically required courses in their majors. None of that bodes well for students in economics courses or, in the long run, for departments of economics. We therefore conclude that only a few great lecturers should fall into a steady diet of chalk and talk. Instead, most of us should use a wider variety of teaching methods because, given different student learning styles and short attention spans, variety really is the spice of life in the classroom.
Here Becker and I part ways a bit over the question of how much traditional material should be taken out of undergraduate courses to be replaced by new material Becker views as "sexier." I would keep more of the traditional material, and instead abandon "one-size fits all" principles courses, to tailor different courses for different groups of students.
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