Thinking and Writing in College: A Naturalistic Study of Students in Four Disciplines

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Another related problem is the image of Economics as a dry, uninspiring, abstract subject.

This pejorative term reflects the widely held view that this science is boring, inaccurate and gloomy or, in line with Malthus, has gloomy predictions. As a discipline, Economics has been slow to adopt innovative approaches to teaching Becker, , ; Becker and Watts, , The heterogeneous makeup of the student body in any introductory class requires an approach to teaching economics which can embed threshold concepts Sloman and Wride, see also in both students studying specialist economics degrees and non-specialists Embedding Threshold Concepts Project, Staffordshire University.

Frank uses the economic naturalist writing assignment in his introductory economics courses. Students formulate their own question based on a real life observation and are encouraged to write free of algebra, graphs and complex terminology, in a manner understandable by a relative who has never studied economics the so-called Grandma test Frank, see also. Individual students may prefer particular learning styles, such as visual, aural or conceptual.

His writing assignment, therefore, is a practical application of this approach. Students who come up with an interesting question are more likely to have fun and devote energy to the task, and talk to others about it, which reinforces the practical aspects of what they learned. The learning is now internalised and great stories are usually remembered forever Frank, The aims of the assignment were shamelessly borrowed from Frank and encouraged students to:.

I provided a simple theory refresher at the start of the subject, and organised parallel workshops in week 1 of the semester for students who felt they needed additional help, to ensure that all students understood the basic microeconomic concepts upon which the subject is built.

Chapter 1 Science and Scientific Research | Research Methods for the Social Sciences

All students were required to write at least one reflective essay for the semester along the guidelines set by Frank with one slight modification: the essay length was extended to a maximum of words. Getting students to come up with an interesting question is easy for some but hard for most at the beginning.

I experimented by getting students to submit an essay proposal, so I could check that they were on the right path appropriate question, understanding of concepts involved, etc , but in hindsight this was too time-consuming and led to over-reliance on me. The most immediate benefit from this writing assignment is getting the students to see the relevance of studying economics.

This enabled me to use my individual economic thought to try and decipher human behaviour in given circumstances. The writing assignment is also a counter to the more prevalent means of assessment, which often rely on formalism and encourage rote learning of key concepts.

Chapter 1 Science and Scientific Research

Open the entire book: 9. Acknowledgments 71K. Chapter 1: Preview of the Book K. Chapter 2: Research Theory and Methods 1.

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Thinking and writing in college : a naturalistic study of students in four disciplines

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