The Economics Network

Improving economics teaching and learning for over 20 years

DEBE 2005 Workshop Sessions

The DEBE 2005 conference was divided into 10 interactive sessions, each one devoted to an important area within economics and business education. We are adding presentation slides and other materials to this list.

Problem-Based Learning (Day 1, 11.15)

Facilitator: Dr Inna Pomorina (Economics Network)
Presenters: Frank Forsythe (Ulster University); Judith Piggott & Andy Kilmister (Oxford Brookes University); Guglielmo Volpe & John Sedgwick (London Metropolitan University)

The purpose of this workshop is to identify the main principles of Problem based learning (PBL), its application to Economics courses and participate in a small PBL exercise.

The workshop will start with a presentation on what PBL is and how it works by Frank Forsythe from Ulster University, who's been using it for several years. Then two groups of lecturers - one from Oxford Brookes (Andy Kilmister and Judith Piggott) and another from London Met (Guglielmo Volpe and John Sedgwick) will share their experiences in using PBL in teaching different modules during the last academic year and discuss advantages and problems associated with it.

Participants will be able to participate in a PBL exercise, using one of the problems set for economics students

In the last 15 minutes of the session, participants will be able to ask questions and provide feedback on their perceptions of PBL in economics.

eLearning session: application and integration (Day 1, 11.15)

Facilitator: Martin Poulter (Economics Network)
Presenters: John Houston, Anne Gasteen & David Whigham (Glasgow Caledonian University); Charles Jordan (Enterprise Library Ltd) and David McCausland (University of Aberdeen)

This session is an opportunity to see how eLearning software and Web resources can be embedded in economics courses.

John Houston and Anne Gasteen will talk about integrating the online Virtual Chancellor into their course. David Whigham will demonstrate a free self-marking assessment system based on Excel. Charles Jordan and David McCausland will demonstrate their new tutorial/assessment software LiveEcon.

Education for Sustainable Development (Day 1, 13.45)

Facilitator: Heather Witham (Economics Network)
Presenters: Shinder Thandi & Mike Rosser (University of Coventry); Dr Caterina De Lucia (University of Sheffield); Dr Andrew Mearman (University of the West of England)

Whether or not you are comfortable with the phrase "sustainable development", economics graduates face a working environment increasingly steeped in government, corporate and organisational SD policies. What are the most important concepts we should be teaching and how are they being embedded in the curriculum?

Shinder Thandi and Mike Rosser will be discussing their mini-project, which initially seeks to provide a list of key economic principles for SD. They are keen for attendees to assist in this work. Caterina De Lucia is investigating how the concept of SD is taught from a theoretical and empirical point of view using real-world data through which students can improve their understanding of the issues. Andrew Mearman will discuss the need for pluralism in the teaching of SD in economics.

Lecturers will also be showcasing practices, and time will be devoted to a general sharing of ideas on how to move this initiative forward through curriculum development.

The Maths Problem (Day 1, 13.45)

Facilitators: Dr Martin Poulter & Bhagesh Sachania (Economics Network) Presenters: Michael Grove (Maths, Stats & OR Network); Dr Rebecca Taylor (Nottingham Trent University)

This session will outline what the current 'maths problem' is within the UK higher education economics community and consider some possible solutions.

Michael Grove will provide an introduction to the Maths problem from the Mathematics subject community perspective. Parallels will be drawn with the current situation in economics. The presentation will also highlight some of the many resources that have been produced in an attempt to address this worrying national situation.

Rebecca Taylor will provide the economics perspective, including an overview of the Mathematics for Economics: Enhancing Teaching and Learning (METAL) project and a demonstration of project materials and resources.

There will be an opportunity for delegates to share their institutional experiences and approaches and to identify what additional resources might be required for students and lecturers to tackle the maths problem in economics.

Online Games and Simulations (Day 2, 10.00 and 11.45)

Facilitator and presenter: Prof Charles Holt (University of Virginia)

The session will be a demonstration of the freely accessible online Veconlab software for the economics classroom. Participants will be shown how to set up and administer experiments that implement auctions, decision-making problems, markets, and games. See:

Evaluating Your Teaching (Day 2, 10.00)

Facilitator: Chris Mitchell (Economics Network)
Presenters: Mohammad Alauddin (University of Queensland, Australia); Tommy Tang (Queensland University of Technology, Australia)

Why do we evaluate the quality of our teaching and what are we looking for?

This workshop will investigate how individual academics can reflect on and improve the mechanisms they employ for assessing teaching quality. It will provide advice and guidance on different forms of evaluation that incorporate issues as diverse as student expectations, assessment practices and survey design.

It will incorporate both group discussion on these issues and two case studies that illustrate innovative approaches. Mohammad Alauddin will argue that perceived teaching quality depends not only on the student's perception of their instructor's abilities but also a student's approach to learning. Tommy Tang will investigate economics students' perceptions of their intellectual abilities measured in different assessment types and how these perceptions relate to their attitudes towards their learning experience.

Skills, Employability and Entrepreneurship (Day 2, 11.45)

Facilitator: Dr Inna Pomorina (Economics Network)
Presenters: John Sloman (Economics Network); Frank Forsythe (University of Ulster); Dr Jonathan Leape, Fiona Sandford and Neil McLean (LSE)

A recent survey of economics graduates entering the job market found that they did not feel themselves to be well prepared for work. This workshop will seek to explore what they are lacking in terms of skills and attitudes, why it is happening and what can be done to improve the situation in economics and business. There will be brief presentations on the results of the student, employers and alumni surveys carried out by the Economics Network and a description of two Economics Network funded projects at the LSE on skills, employability and entrepreneurship. There will also be a brief paper on the development of employability-related skills through the use of problem-based learning in economics. Participants will have the opportunity to consider the most effective ways of integrating career-related skills into the economics curriculum.

Student Recruitment and Retention (Day 2, 11.45)

Facilitators: Chris Mitchell & Jessica Lincoln (Economics Network); Dr Linda Juleff (Napier University)

The government's widening participation initiative is placing further pressure on universities to recruit and accommodate greater numbers of students from a more diverse range of backgrounds. This workshop will investigate the implications of this for student recruitment and retention in economics.

The session will be divided into two. The first half will focus on national and departmental initiatives to re-invigorate interest and awareness in economics. The second half, facilitated by Dr Linda Juleff, will present the findings of a study of second year retention rates at Napier University and review what implications these have across the economics community.

Research into Economics and Business Education (Day 2, 14.15)

Facilitator: Prof Peter Davies (Staffordshire University)
Presenters: Andrew Ashwin (Biz/ed); Jean Mangan (Staffordshire University); Dr Scott Simkins (North Carolina A&T State University, USA)

This session will present an overview of the latest generic and economics-specific pedagogical research and demonstrate how it is being translated and re-interpreted into the practice of economics education.

Peter Davies, Jean Mangan and Andrew Ashwin will consider whether the emerging notion of 'threshold concepts' represents a potential paradigm shift in the way that economics courses are conceived of and delivered. Scott Simkins will review how the publication 'How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School' has profoundly influenced both our understanding of how students learn and the design of effective learning environments in economics.

eLearning session: looking forward (Day 2, 14.15)

Facilitators & Presenters: Bhagesh Sachania (Economics Network); Andy Ramsden (Learning Technology Support Service, University of Bristol)

The aim of this workshop is to investigate the potential uses of personal digital assistants (PDAs) in supporting aspects of teaching and learning in economics. It will raise an awareness and understanding of handheld technology and create the opportunity for hands-on experience. Specifically delegates will:

  • Use a PDA to create and share documents and to surf the web.
  • Identify the common tasks associated with teaching, reflect on how you undertake these tasks and map the potential use of a PDA for achieving these tasks more effectively.

This session will also highlight examples of good practice and raise questions for delegates to reflect upon and re-visit in the future with respect to the use of handheld technology in their teaching and learning.

Paper-based games and simulations for the classroom (Day 2, 10.00)

Facilitator and presenter: John Sloman (Economics Network)

The workshop will start by considering the role of games and simulations in a problem-based learning approach to studying economics. Participants will then have the opportunity to sample two economics games. The first, developed by Charles Holt and Susan Laury, uses a pack of cards to simulate the provision of a public good and illustrates problems of free riding and the prisoners' dilemma. The second is the International Trading Game, developed by Action Aid, and illustrates a range of economic concepts from market equilibria to opportunity cost, specialisation and division of labour, the law of comparative advantage, principal-agent relationships, information asymmetries, oligopolistic collusion, game theory (strategy, bargaining, trust, etc.) and acting on expected prices. The game is simple and quick to set up and can be played with from 10 to 120 students with just one game leader.