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Course Syllabus (cont.)

"One must learn by doing the thing; though you think you know it,
you have no certainty until you try." Publilius Syrus, Moral Sayings


Course Format

My goal is to create an environment with a number and variety of learning experiences that will allow you to discover and construct economic knowledge for yourself. I endeavor to manage the learning environment so that you can produce the highest quality learning. I consider it your goal to take responsibility for achieving the highest quality learning.

All course information, tutorials, Excel workbooks, and project descriptions will be accessed using a Web browser. You will use Microsoft Excel (version 5.0 or higher) to manipulate microeconomic models to improve your understanding of how to use them to answer questions. All out-of-class communication with me will be via e-mail or WebBoard, an on-line bulletin board.

This is an active-learning course... As a result, you must:

  1. read carefully the relevant Tutorial(s) each week. Do not get behind!
  2. post messages to Webboard about those aspects of the Tutorials you do not understand and reply to those message when you are able to explain a concept to someone else in the class.
  3. hand to me your well thought out, written answer to the "Good Faith Effort" question(s) twice a week.
  4. work with your study team on questions related to the manipulation of key microeconomic models using Excel. Post questions to Webboard about difficulties your team is having with the problems or the computer software.

The readings and Excel workbooks for each chapter may be found on the course schedule. (I recommend you bookmark that page right away...)

Working in Study Teams Top

You will quickly find that working in teams is an excellent way to achieve the highest quality learning. As an active member of your team you will learn how to establish a point and defend it, or change it in light of sound criticism. You will discover the value of accepting responsibility for the effect your actions (or inactions) have on others with whom you work. You will also develop a keener understanding of economic concepts and models because you will be spending your time "doing the thing".

Given the class format described above, reading the Tutorial(s) each week and actively engaging in Webboard discussions and problem solving question-and-answer with members of your study team are crucial.

You will learn economics more effectively by "doing the thing". This entails asking your team members questions, answering their questions, helping each other, and analyzing your mistakes. Remember that it is rarely the case that one either "gets it" or "gets it wrong" the first time; learning takes place gradually and as a result of repeated attempts to "debug" your thinking. This is where good team work can be the greatest help.

I will establish teams during the first few days of the course. The membership on each study team is not sacrosanct. You are free to rearrange who you study with so long as you try not to study alone. Remember that you do not have to meet in person to work as a member of a study team. I can set up Team Conferences on Webboard so you may communicate with members of your team in private. But you must communicate with them or the advantages of team work will dissolve.


Daily Work (Tasks 1 and 2)

Most of your work time for this class will be spent reading Tutorials and using Excel workbooks to solve problems designed to clarify your understanding of the microeconomic models and concepts in each Tutorial; i.e., you should be spending most of your time "doing the thing".

Excel is a spreadsheet software program that allows you to rapidly manipulate graphical models without focusing on the underlying equations. The Excel workbooks are assigned to help you develop a clear understanding of how to manipulate key economic models as you learn key concepts. This will give you a proper foundation for successfully passing the online quizzes, in-class tests, and out-of-class projects on your own.

As you work on the Excel workbook and Good Faith Effort questions, don't seek my help the moment you get stuck; work with the question for a while, go over your notes, reread the tutorial, post questions to Webboard. Remember, mastery of the economic way of thinking takes a lot of practice. If you are stuck, then seek out your teammates help by e-mail, Webboard, or a face-to-face meeting. Keep in mind that you have succeeded in learning from these workbook problems when you are able to "fly solo", that is, to answer questions without your teammate(s) or me to hold you up.

Daily reading of the tutorials and work on the Excel and GFE questions, AND active participation with your teammates and me in Webboard discussions, problem solving, and computer work, is absolutely essential if you are to master the key economic concepts and models taught in this course.