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Documented Problem Solving: Identifying a Change in Demand and Its Impact

This page authored by Linda Wilson, The University of Texas at Arlington.
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This material is replicated on a number of sites as part of the SERC Pedagogic Service Project

Summary

During the lecture, the determinants of demand and supply were discussed. The impact of a shift in supply or demand and the change to equilibrium price and quantity were also demonstrated. In this activity, students are asked to identify a change in "tastes or preferences" as a determinant of demand. They then are asked to determine the impact that the change in demand will have on the equilibrium price for the good.

Learning Goals

Students will:

Context for Use

This activity is meant primarily for Principles of Economics students, but it could be used for review in a more advanced economics course. In general, students should have a basic understanding of demand and supply, including graphical representations of each, in order to benefit from this activity.

Description and Teaching Materials

For this activity, all that is needed is a MC or T/F question that requires critical thinking skills. Both are given below.

Ceteris paribus, if consumers decide that jeans with holes in them look really great, then the:
a) Demand for these jeans will increase and the equilibrium price will decrease.
b) Demand for these jeans will increase and the equilibrium price will increase.
c) Supply of these jeans will increase and equilibrium price will increase.
d) Supply of these jeans will decrease and equilibrium price will fall.

Answer: b


Ceteris paribus, if consumers decide that jeans with holes in them look really great, then the demand for these jeans will increase and the equilibrium price will increase.

Answer: True

Teaching Notes and Tips

Students must first be able to identify "tastes and preferences" as a determinant of demand. They sometimes want to jump ahead and conclude that because people desire more of something, producers will immediately produce more of it, making "tastes and preferences" a determinant of supply. In addition, students will need to understand that an increase in demand causes the demand curve to shift to the right. It is best if students draw a graph and let the graph demonstrate the change in equilibrium price and quantity. In many cases they want to guess rather than draw the graph.

Assessment

Students are asked to write a documented problem solution to explain the process they used to answer the question. The solution should include details about the student's thought process. Student answers may be stated differently but should include the same logic.

In order to solve this problem, I first thought about the determinants of supply and demand. Since consumers have a preference for jeans with holes, there must be a change in a determinant of demand. I remembered that a change in the price of a good causes movement along the demand curve, but a change in a determinant causes a shift of the demand curve. In this case, since the preference for jeans with holes increases, there is an increase in demand. This was demonstrated in class by a rightward shift in the demand curve.

Next, I drew the initial demand and supply curves. I located the initial equilibrium price and quantity where the two curves intersect and labeled them P1 and Q1. Then I drew a new demand curve to the right of the initial demand curve. I found the new equilibrium price and quantity where the new demand curve intersects the supply curve. I labeled the new equilibrium points P2 and Q2. The new equilibrium price is greater than the initial equilibrium price.

Below is a rubric that can be used to assess student answers.

References and Resources

Angelo, T.A. and Cross, K.P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.