Teaching Methods

Each pedagogic module contains a general description of the pedagogical method, summaries of research demonstrating student learning gains, classroom implementation guides, and a library of economics-based examples that illustrate the teaching method in action.

Classroom Experiments

Classroom experiments are activities where any number of students work in groups on carefully designed guided inquiry questions. Materials provide students with the means of collecting data through interaction with typical laboratory materials, data simulation tools or a decision making environment, as well a series of questions that lead to discovery-based learning.

Classroom Response Systems

A Classroom Response System (CRS) is technology that promotes and implements active and cooperative learning. Beatty (2004) states that "By engaging their minds in class, (CRS) based instruction makes students active participants in the learning process." It allows students to anonymously commit to an instructor-posed question in class and provides immediate feedback.

Context-Rich Problems

Context-rich problems are short realistic scenarios giving the students a plausible motivation for solving the problem. The problem is a short story (beginning with "you") in which the major character is the student. Context-rich problems are more complex than traditional problems, reflecting the real world, and may include excess information, or require the student to recall important background information.

Cooperative Learning

Cooperative Learning involves structuring classes around small groups that work together in such a way that each group member's success is dependent on the group's success. There are different kinds of groups for different situations, but they all balance some key elements that distinguish cooperative learning from competitive or individualistic learning.

Documented Problem Solving

Documented problem solving is an active learning assessment technique that "... prompts students to keep track of the steps they take in solving a problem ..." and then to write down or document the steps they follow (Angelo & Cross, 1993: p. 222)

Interactive Lectures

An interactive lecture is an easy way for instructors to intellectually engage and involve students as active participants in a lecture-based class of any size. Interactive lectures are classes in which the instructor breaks the lecture at least once per class to have students participate in an activity that lets them work directly with the material.

Interactive Lecture Demonstrations

Interactive Lecture Demonstrations introduce a carefully scripted activity, creating a "time for telling" in a traditional lecture format. Because the activity causes students to confront their prior understanding of a core concept, students are ready to learn in a follow-up lecture.

Interdisciplinary Approaches to Teaching

Interdisciplinary instruction entails the use and integration of methods and analytical frameworks from more than one academic discipline to examine a theme, issue, question or topic. The hallmark of interdisciplinary education is integration of notions and guiding principles from multiple disciplines to systematically form a more complete, and hopefully coherent, framework of analysis that offers a richer understanding of the issue under examination.

Just-in-Time Teaching

Just-in-Time Teaching focuses on improving student learning through the use of brief web-based questions (JiTT exercises) delivered before a class meeting. Students' responses to JiTT exercises are reviewed by the instructor a few hours before class and are used to develop classroom activities addressing learning gaps revealed in the JiTT responses. JiTT exercises allow instructors to quickly gather information about student understanding of course concepts immediately prior to a class meeting and tailor activities to meet students' actual learning needs.

Math You Need, When You Need It

Math You Need, When You Need It has just-in-time mathematics tutorials for students of economics. Each math topic has a page to help students understand the concept and how it is used in economics. Topical pages also come with practice problems with answers for each lesson. Instructors can assign tests that are liked to the practice problems on each topic.

Quantitative Writing

Quantitative writing (QW) is the written explanation of a quantitative analysis. A good quantitative writing assignment engages students with an open-ended, ambiguous, data-rich problem requiring the thinker to understand principles and concepts rather than simply applying formulae. Assignments ask students to produce a claim with supporting reasons and evidence rather than "the answer." Such "ill-structured problems" thus differ from writing assignments that lack a quantitative dimension as well as from "story problems" in math courses. Quantitative writing assignments can take a variety of forms, genres, and complexities.

Service Learning

"Service-learning is an experiential teaching method that combines community service with academic instruction as it focuses on critical, reflective thinking and civic responsibility. Service-learning programs involve students in organized community service that addresses local needs, while developing their academic skills, sense of civic responsibility and commitment to the community." Campus Compact National Center for Community Colleges

Teaching with Cases

The case method combines two elements: the case itself and the discussion of that case. A teaching case is a rich narrative in which individuals or groups must make a decision or solve a problem. A teaching case is not a "case study" of the type used in academic research. Teaching cases provide information, but neither analysis nor conclusions. The analytical work of explaining the relationships among events in the case, identifying options, evaluating choices and predicting the effects of actions is the work done by students during the classroom discussion.

Teaching with Computer Simulations

When students use a model of behavior to gain a better understanding of that behavior, they are doing a simulation. Instructional simulations have the potential to engage students in "deep learning" that empowers understanding as opposed to "surface learning" that requires only memorization.

Teaching with Spreadsheets

Spreadsheets allow students to "get their hands dirty" by working with real-world data. Spreadsheets make abstract or complex models accessible by providing concrete examples and allowing "what if" analyses. Charts on a printed page are "dead" while spreadsheet representations are "live" in that students can interact with the concepts underlying them. Spreadsheet programs contain a number of powerful tools, some well-known, some less so.

Team-Based Learning

Team-based learning (TBL) is a structured, evidence-based whole-course framework for improving student learning through the systematic and intentional use of student teams, who interact regularly in structured learning activities. TBL courses are designed around a five-stage "readiness assurance" process, followed by a series of classroom-based "application exercises" that require teams to solve, discuss, and report out solutions to relevant, significant problems.

Undergraduate Student Research

In an undergraduate research experience, students collaborate with faculty on actual research projects, learning about both a particular topic in a field and the research process in general. The Council for Undergraduate Research (CUR) defines undergraduate research to be any "inquiry or investigation conducted by an undergraduate student that makes an original intellectual or creative contribution to the discipline." Kinkead (2003) writes that "another hallmark of undergraduate research is the role of the mentor faculty member who guides the novice researcher and initiates the student into the discipline" (p. 6). The National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) and CUR argue that undergraduate research is a four-step learning process.

Using Media to Enhance Teaching and Learning

Media can be a component of active learning strategies such as group discussions or case studies. Media could be a a film clip, a song you hear on the radio, podcast of a lecture or newspaper article. Students can also create their own media. For example, student video projects can be a powerful learning experience.