Thursday, June 20, 2013

My summer class (thoroughly modern Angus edition)

I'm teaching principles of micro this summer. 8:00 - 10:00 am daily. I know.

My text is Cowen & Tabarrok, which I like a lot, but I'm using a lot of other stuff as well.

The day before a topic, students watch a couple videos from the excellent Khan Academy series on microeconomics. I try to keep the total amount of video time here at 20 minutes or less. Then they take an online quiz over the material.

In class, I start with a mini-presentation introducing the topic and dealing with comprehension issues that the quiz may have revealed.

During the class period, we take breaks in the presentation for the class to answer, multiple choice, short answer, graphing, or essay questions that I deliver to them via their phones or tablets or laptops. The software I'm using here is called Learning Catalytics.

This way, students get instant feedback on what they are understanding and not understanding, and I get a chance to see right away how to shape the class time towards what is causing them trouble.

I really love this approach.

The Cowen & Tabarrok book comes with extensive online resources that I use a lot. Plus they get right to the point and don't mess around with a lot of extraneous stuff that principles students don't need or that isn't quite right.

The students like the Khan Academy videos, and they free me up from having to do a lot of numerical examples of where demand and supply and cost curves come from in class.

But the star I think is the Learning Catalytics software. When I have the right question prepared, it can really crack open the problem students are having and lead to a greatly improved level of understanding of the material.

This has happened both yesterday on the topic of externalities and today on the topic of economic vs. accounting profit. It just lets me see what they are thinking and how to better re-address the issue. I've also found students are more willing to speak up after we've done a question, displayed the results and discussed the answers.

Even with the 8:00 am start, I am having a blast and feel good about what we are learning.


Simon Spero said...

With the 0800hrs start time, I surprised you don't take the obvious next step and get a remote presence robot like these ones.

I think you could custom order a model with some of the features from the various tactical models, so you could hold class outside, or add some manipulators in case you need to tele-face-palm, write on a whiteboard, or fend off angry mobs.

Andrew said...

This is awesome. Thanks for sharing this with those of us who are early in our careers and trying to see ways to go beyond the techniques used to teach us in undergrad.

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