Economics Network CHEER Virtual Edition

Volume 14, Issue 2, 2000

Guy Judge


Welcome to the latest issue of CHEER.

Regular readers of CHEER will know that contributors to earlier issues have often extolled the benefits of using packages such as Excel and Mathcad to create interactive courseware for economics. It is a message that we do not mind repeating, particularly when new contributions touch on slightly different angles or illustrate other areas of application. In this issue we have two new spreadsheet papers. J. Wilson Mixon, Jr and Soumaya Tohamy report on a project where they have developed interactive Excel workbooks for use on an Economics Principles course. Three interesting and elegantly designed examples illustrate what can be done. The authors stress the importance of integrating the material into the course itself, linking the Excel workbooks to the main course text. An interesting outcome of this approach is that it provides a clear focus for the course and, by making students work with these interactive models, 'forces' students to work more systematically through the course text.

Our second paper illustrates how spreadsheets such as Excel can be used to explore neoclassical assumptions in a new Keynesian model. The authors, Miles B. Cahill and George Kosicki, demonstrate how this approach allows students to compare directly the results of different schools of thought by modifying the assumptions built into the spreadsheet. They argue that this has clear pedagogic advantages over traditional approaches that just present different models in separate contexts. Spreadsheets can handle the computational side of things and allow students to focus on the economics.

For some economic dynamics topics, software such as Mathcad may provide a more suitable environment in which to develop the applications. Paul Turner illustrates this with his paper on the use of Mathcad worksheets in teaching the Ramsey growth model.

Our final paper is a follow-up to the article by Mike Osborne in the previous issue of CHEER, in which he extends his case for using computer algebra software (such as Mathcad, Mathematica and Maple) to visualise financial concepts that fall into the complex plane when expressed algebraically.

Our reviews section includes a look at EViews version 4.0 by Paul Turner. Paul has recently been providing hands-on workshop courses on the use of the software (see and his review stresses the increased power of this latest version, particularly in the areas of vector autoregression models and state-space estimation. Finally, Julia Darby provides a brief review of my book, "Computing Skills for Economists".

Note: In the last issue of CHEER I briefly referred to the new sister publication to CHEER that will be concentrating on the non-technology-based aspects of learning and teaching economics. This journal is now being launched with the title - International Review of Economics Education.

Guy Judge
Department of Economics, University of Portsmouth
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