International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education (8 papers in press)
Teaching Strategies for English-Medium Instruction Economics Courses
by Shiou-Yen Chu
Abstract: This paper presents teaching pedagogies to help students for whom English is a foreign language learn economics in an English medium instruction (EMI) environment. We applied these strategies to introductory-level and intermediate-level economics courses at a public university in southern Taiwan. The questionnaire results indicate that innovative pedagogical methods can compensate for students inadequate language proficiency. Tertiary students who may not have an excellent command of English can still have pleasant EMI experiences in a content-based classroom. A by-product of implementing our teaching strategies is that students also experienced statistically significant improvement in their English skills.
Keywords: English medium instruction; innovative teaching; economics teaching; Non-English speakers; The Simpsons.
The Teaching Commons: Peer Financial Education Handout Assignment
by Jean Abbott
Abstract: Peer educators are a common sight on college campuses and peer financial education has been found effective. The Peer Financial Education Handout Assignment combines peer education and financial literacy education. Students develop a two-page informational handout on a personal finance topic that matters to them at their current stage of life. This is in keeping with the concept of personalized and just-in-time education. Students present their topic to classmates and then share the handout with the general college community by staffing informational tables. The peer education feature of the assignment heightens the general education aspect of the work in the course, enriching the personal finance content with general skills. Student learning outcomes addressed by this assignment are: (1) learning to analyze and critically evaluate ideas, arguments, and points of view, (2) gaining factual knowledge, and (3) developing skill in expressing oneself orally and in writing. rn
Keywords: financial literacy; peer educators; peer financial education; general education; personal finance; higher education.
Whither economic complexity? A new heterodox economic paradigm or just another variation within the mainstream?
by Arne Heise
Abstract: Although neoclassical economics still remains the normal science providing the foundation for economic education, there is a growing demand within and without the scientific community for a major overhaul of economicsa longstading demand by heterodox economists. Complexity economics claims to be at the spotlight of this demand for new economic thinking. This paper analyzes the paradigmatical features of complexity economics, placing it along the heterodox-orthodox divide in order to explain its impact on the evolution of economics.
Keywords: Heterodoxy; Complexity Economics; Pluralism; Methodology.
Values in Consumer Choice: Do They Matter?
by Salman Shaikh
Abstract: Mathematical tractability has restricted economic analysis of consumer behavior within a confined boundary of certain axioms. Often, these axioms are found to be empirically false. Even more importantly, these axioms and the analytical framework based on them is incapable of explaining economic choices in environment goods, public goods and social choice. Studies in behavioral finance have also documented information processing incapacities and biases that challenge some of the rationality assumptions. In this study, we collect primary data from 250 respondents to investigate whether preferences are amenable and whether preferences take account of effects on others. The evidence supports that preferences are amenable among the respondents in the sample and that relational utility models are more realistic as compared to self-centric utility models. Using chi-square test of independence, we also establish that the values of respondents are independent of income and age.
Keywords: Neoclassical Economics; Consumer Behaviour; Rationality; Utility Maximization; Values; Preferences.
Curricular Reform at Willamette University
by Nathan Sivers Boyce, Jerry Gray, Cathleen Whiting, Donald H. Negri, Laura J. Taylor, Raechelle Mascarenhas, Yan Liang, Tabitha Knight
Abstract: In August 2014 Willamette University began offering a new economics curriculum. The purpose of this paper is to describe it in more detail and explain our rationale for adopting it. Key changes include commitments to: begin with economic issues that motivate questions for analysis; incorporate the history of economic thought in a systematic way; and embrace explicit pluralism. We argue that designing an explicitly pluralist curriculum requires determining how to organize economic thought, how to structure the curriculum to embed pluralism, and how to embody pluralism in the core courses. Our approach to pluralism organizes economic thought according to a grand traditions approach and is fully integrated into the curriculum, developing multiple perspectives side-by-side in each course. We argue that these reforms will help us better prepare students for independent, critical inquiry into economic issues.
Keywords: pluralism; curriculum reform; Willamette University; grand traditions; history of thought; economics education; contending perspectives; critical thinking; liberal arts educational philosophy.
Rational Choice, Independent Utility and the Inclusive Classroom
by Lisa Saunders
Abstract: Neoclassical models of individual utility maximization seem logical and consistent to many students; however, they can seem unrealistic and alienating to many others. When students have such misgivings acknowledged, they are more open to learning. This article describes an in-class exercise designed to allow undergraduates to examine their own motivations and choices. When students identify and compare their diverse motivations to the widely taught assumptions of selfishness and individualism, they gain important critical thinking skills. This, in turn, facilitates their development of insight into, and confidence about their abilities to learn and critique rational choice theoretical models. Greater familiarity with abstraction in the development of theoretical arguments makes students more open to learning about heterodox theories, methods and policy debates.
Keywords: neoclassical economics; rational choice; utility maximization; individual labor supply; labor economics; gender and work; economics education; under-represented economics majors.
(Re)Thinking like an Economist: Pluralism, Critical Thinking and Economic Pedagogy
by David Kristjanson-Gural
Abstract: This paper describes the economic way of thinking and how adherence to the goal of encouraging students to think like an economist arose. The example of the theory of demand in Institutional and Marxian economics is used to illustrate how the mainstream economics curriculum, by adhering to a singular way of thinking, deprives students of the opportunity to think critically about the their role as producers and consumers in the economy and about how economic theories work. Only by adopting theoretical and pedagogical pluralism can the profession overcome these weaknesses. It concludes by assessing the prospects and strategies for promoting a pluralist approach within the profession and by outlining some steps that faculty and students might take to ensure that education in economics is genuinely empowering.
Keywords: economics education; economics pedagogy; pluralism; critical thinking; Institutional economics; Marxian economics; contending theories; thinking like an economist; economic way of thinking.
Beyond the models: A Case Study of the management of epistemological issues in teaching a Globalisation and the World Economy subject 7 years after the start of the Global Financial Crisis
by Adam Fforde
Abstract: This paper reports on personal experience writing and teaching a 2nd Year Subject in Globalisation and the World Economy in Semester 2, 2014, before the full ending of Quantitative Easing and 7 years after the closure of Lehman Brothers. The focus is upon the management of epistemological issues: for example, how to engage students in a broad discussion of possible implications of the failure of economic analysis in general to predict the Global Financial Crisis and how to avoid various well-known pitfalls whilst retaining student interest. The course was a success, so far as can be told from student remarks and evaluation
Keywords: teaching globalisation; epistemology; economic theory.