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Getting Started with Quantitative Writing Assignments

Testing the Waters
If you have never incorporated writing in your teaching, how do you get started? After all, few Ph.D.s in economics were trained to teach writing as part of their graduate studies. The answer begins by realizing that your job is not to teach writing, rather just to use writing as a tool for teaching economics.

In your own words, write a one page essay to explore the question: Is economics a science? Your essay should use terminology understandable to a typical first year student, and should consider the following: What is a science? Why are physics or chemistry considered sciences, while literature and art are not?

Here's a more sophisticated example of a QW assignment:

One of the results of Hurricane Katrina several years ago was a dramatic increase in the prices of most products in New Orleans and other parts of Louisiana. This prompted complaints of "price gouging" and demands for government protection of consumers and punishment of the price gougers. Write a 1-2 page essay using the theory of supply and demand to analyze the impact of Hurricane Katrina on goods prices in Louisiana. Exactly why did prices increase? Show graphically and explain in detail. In your essay, be sure to consider the following points. Was it appropriate or not for prices to rise? Define "price gouging" in your own words. Explain the extent to which the price increases in Louisiana were examples of price gouging or not. Should government have prevented the price increases? Who would have benefited and who would have been harmed if the government had prevented those price increases?

Finally, here's an example of an empirical research paper:

Find data on the motion picture box office and film characteristics for a sample of movies. Based on the data you collect, perform an analysis of the value of a "Best Picture" Oscar award. In a 5-7 page paper, explain your data gathering methods, justify your econometric model, and explain what you find.

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For an in-depth explanation of how to design effective QW assignments

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