Economics Network IREE Virtual Edition

Reflections on Curriculum Development, Pedagogy and Assessment by a New Academic

Don J. Webber*
International Review of Economics Education, volume 4, issue 1 (2005), pp. 58-73
DOI: 10.1016/S1477-3880(15)30137-7 (Note that this link takes you to the Elsevier version of this paper)

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New members of academic teaching staff will encounter any number of issues and problems in their first year and many will not know how to teach. This paper discusses the naivety of a new academic, issues encountered in the first year of a lecturing post and the efforts put into writing and compiling a new, core, final year, undergraduate module. Experiences of curriculum development, pedagogy and assessment are explored and reflections based on the knowledge accumulated from attendance on a Professional Development Programme are presented. Emphasis rests on the design and implementation of the module, with specific focus on intentions, content, assessment and delivery.

JEL Classification: A22

Introduction and Background

New members of academic teaching staff will encounter a large number of issues and problems associated with their new position and these will be linked to their new role(s), new location, the variety of student backgrounds and working with new colleagues. Many of these issues and problems can be unexpected. Examples of such issues and problems are module preparation, stimulating student interaction, unexpected variations in the abilities of students, suppositions about the way students learn, expectations of students' prior knowledge and experiences of life, and the importance of cultural differences between university levels and between students. Some of these problems might be encountered because a new academic can be naive to the pedagogy, design and assessment aspects of teaching.

Books often provide guidance on how to become an 'effective' lecturer, but reflections on experiences and methods of dealing with problems are rare, even though they could provide lessons to pass on to the next generation of academics. The purpose of this paper is to examine and explore the experience of curriculum design, pedagogy and assessment from the perspective of a new academic in the field of economics where the new academic is naïve about good teaching practice. As a new academic, I draw on my own experience and illustrate that the level of success achieved was driven by the quantity and quality of interaction, guidance and advice given to me by existing academic teaching staff. This is a reflection of my first year as a full-time lecturer, grounded partly around Cannon and Newble (2000) a book I was referred to after commencement of the post and after the curriculum development, pedagogy and assessment were designed.

Prior to taking up this lecturing position at a British university, I was a Research Fellow with no teaching requirements at a different British university. Three months before the start of the permanent contract, the proforma and syllabus for a final year, core undergraduate module was sent to me for perusal. This module, named International Economic Policy (IEP), was designed for students following a BA (Hons) in International Business Economics. A member of staff prior to my arrival had already written the proforma and syllabus.(note 1) Given that the module would be strongly associated with the research that I was conducting at the time, I was very pleased to be offered the chance to teach a core module that appeared to be close to my research interests, and I duly accepted the offer.

I immediately contacted academic colleagues and friends across a number of universities to collect advice and guidance.The advice from colleagues indicated that my first year would be relentless, with streams of students asking for help, requests from other members of staff, and numerous administrative requirements. They stressed that preparation was very important and that I should begin writing the module before commencement of the post. This included drawing on unused holiday at the end of the previous contract to work on the design and pedagogy of this new module. In order to get ahead, I decided to write the whole module during the summer (in my spare time, evenings, and holiday) and to submit my design to the Module Leader(note 2) in late August to obtain constructive feedback, prior to commencement of the module.(note 3) In this paper, I describe my experience of curriculum development, pedagogy and assessment for this module and present reflections on knowledge accumulated on a Professional Development Programme (PDP).(note 4)

Like many new lecturers with high expectations of students and strong intentions for professional success, I had decisions to make on the content and methods of teaching. This paper is concerned with the elements of curriculum development, pedagogy and assessment detailed by Cannon and Newble (2000, p. 71).(note 5) They suggest that, although there is no straightforward formula to guide lecturers in curriculum development,'our major concern is to ensure that each element - intentions, teaching, assessment, content - is considered and that the links between the elements are thoughtfully made'. The structure of this paper is based on these elements: first come intentions, followed by content, assessment, and then delivery. Finally, conclusions are drawn.


Being keen and eager to be a successful lecturer generated high expectations of myself and included intentions of generating stimulating and interesting modules. With respect to this module, my intentions were to:

In order for the students to be inspired enough to question the content of the module, I decided that the economic content should include contemporary issues highlighted in the media. The more the topics are discussed in the media over the year of study then the greater the likelihood of students recognising the usefulness of the content of the module and to engaging in study of the subject. Tailoring content in this way would allow students with an interest in current affairs to be able to interpret the origins of international and national macroeconomic decisionmaking. It also gave me the option of analysing and discussing media coverage that appeared up to and including the day of the lectures and seminars. Moreover, if the media were to highlight activities that were of relevance to issues covered earlier in the module, students would be consulted at the beginning or end of seminars and encouraged to refer to these issues in their assessments.

Given these prior considerations, time was spent devising ways to integrate these ideas into a highly interactive and stimulating module. Other important issues were also pondered over, including whether I would be solely transmitting knowledge to the students or whether there would be recognisable interaction and exchange of knowledge, skills and attitudes between students. I believed the latter to be necessary for students to appreciate and develop their understanding of key concepts and ideas. Although one of the aims of this module was for it to be interactive and stimulating, other factors considered to be important were to encourage students to feel in control of their learning by promoting hands-onlearning, high levels of student engagement, and the development of curiosity to stimulate students to find out more.(note 6) To encourage hands-on learning, a clear and explicit structure was deemed desirable, which I believed would encourage students to engage in the subject, to question the theoretical content and to appreciate its practical relevance. I had no idea how long the writing of the module would take and it proved to be more difficult and time-consuming than expected, due to continuous redrafting and restructuring of the entire module.

To fulfil some of these intentions, theoretical developments would build on the knowledge students obtained from their studies of a prerequisite module in International Trade and Multinational Business (ITMB). Traditional theory would be followed by some of the new theoretical developments and complemented by case study evidence.


Students following the BA (Hons) International Business Economics degree are required to take a core module on ITMB in their penultimate year, which comprises a number of concepts, including the central theorem in international economics, the Heckscher-Ohlin theorem. Given the proforma and the information that the students should possess this knowledge already, it was decided that IEP would be grounded on the Heckscher-Ohlin theorem, and the purpose of the module would be to bring students' knowledge up-to-date with some of the most recent theoretical and empirical developments in the field. Particular focus would be on academic articles that had been published over the previous five years. I am using 'module content' in the broadest sense to include all aspects of knowledge, skills and attitudes relevant to the module and to the intellectual experiences of students and their teachers, but there are different types of criteria by which we should assess our curriculum. In what follows, the philosophical, psychological, practical and student criteria, as detailed in Cannon and Newble (2000), are discussed.(note 7)

Philosophical Criteria

The philosophical criteria focus on the theoretical, methodological and value positions of the curriculum. A module should be a means to enhance the intellectual development of students, and not an end in itself. In order to enhance the intellectual development of students, it was decided that the module would adopt a scaffolding approach and build on the knowledge obtained in their earlier studies of ITMB. To achieve this aim the first couple of lectures would recapitulate and reorientate students' knowledge so that they would revise the foundations of the IEP module(note 8) while the remainder of the module would be structured to enable a high level of understanding, where similar issues would be grouped together.(note 9)

Cannon and Newble (2000, p. 72) suggest that content that is solely concerned with technical matters has no place in university education. This may well differ between disciplines, but to encourage analysis, and a high level of understanding that economics is a "living, breathing science" (Ormerod, 1994), we must help students to understand certain technicalities. An example concerns the breakdown of identified relationships when those relationships are used to formulate policy. Goodhart's Law essentially states that the control of a symptom or part of a problem will not cure that problem; instead, the part that is being controlled becomes a poor indicator of the problem. Recognition and understanding of such technicalities is very important and can lead to good, rigorous, analytical thought and reflection. As a new lecturer, I did not know how to overcome the barriers to understanding particular concepts and the usual misconceptions and/or failures of comprehension prior to teaching the module, except, of course, from my own experiences. Moreover, I did not recognise that these might be problems and so advice on overcoming barriers was not sought.

Technical matters need to be appreciated and understood in economics if analysis and evaluation are to be developed. For instance, elementary economic theory suggests that there is an inverse relationship between inflation and unemployment - commonly known as the Phillips Curve. This relationship can most easily be appreciated and understood through the use of diagrams, which can be technical. It is only when we appreciate that a relationship is complex and based on a range of assumptions (and hence does not always hold) that we can develop our understanding of that relationship. Within economics it is only through the appreciation of general and specific issues (including technicalities) that deep rather than surface understanding can be achieved.

The scaffolding approach was adopted to help develop and enhance the philosophical criteria.(note 10) The theoretical, methodological and value positions of the curriculum could then be developed and revised over the duration of the module to enhance the intellectual development of students. The knowledge accrued over the duration of the module should benefit students' understanding when international issues are discussed in the media. These include the policies and issues discussed at the World Summit for the environment in Johannesburg, which included the discussion of trade, the environment, employment and poverty.

Psychological Criteria

Content should be carefully integrated to avoid fragmentation and consequential loss of opportunities for students to develop deep approaches to learning; provide opportunities to emphasise and develop higher-level intellectual skills, such as reasoning, problem solving, critical thinking and creativity; and relate to the 'process' activities and to the development of attitude and values (Cannon and Newble, 2000, p. 72).

The integration of topics into a logical structure would meet part of the psychological criteria, but this proved to be incredibly difficult. Many of the topics required others to be discussed in advance. The organisation of the module would be key to a logical progression and for the development of logical thought over the duration of the module. Modules with similar content taught at other universities were perused, while discussion with peers and frequent reflection and redrafting were undertaken to tighten the line along which the module would develop. This took a surprisingly large amount of time, for which I was not prepared.(note 11)

To encourage the development of higher-level intellectual skills, I decided that the module should require students to present recently published academic papers to the rest of the class and to participate in case-study exercises. The view was taken, again from my own experience, that the presentation of material to peers often makes the student put in more effort than usual. This is due partly to students not wishing to embarrass themselves in front of their peers and partly to them recognising that, in order to teach others, they need to understand what they are going to say. I felt that this motivation was a useful stimulus to critical thinking and reflection.(note 12) Presentation of non-textbook content was believed to be one way of achieving this goal. This format also provided opportunities to develop higher-level intellectual skills, critical thinking and creativity.

One element of student presentation that I stressed as being important from the very start of the module was the expression of individual thoughts and values. Creative, open thinking and expression was encouraged throughout to encourage the development of evidence-based attitudes to international policy.(note 13)

Practical Criteria

It is an unfortunate and sad fact of university life that few students attend every lecture and every seminar.(note 14) The provision of reading materials is essential for students to catch up and keep up with the knowledge being disseminated in sessions from which they were absent.

One of the main problems with attempting to include some of the most up-to-date literature and ideas in a module is that textbooks cannot contain such content. This made the practical criteria of module development difficult to achieve. For this reason, various recently published high-quality, relevant, inter-related journal articles were selected as the essential materials for student reference.(note 15) The selected articles built on theoretical foundations covered in the module. The approach taken meant that there was conflict between the intention to be up-to-date and the practical criterion of textbook availability, although this may be inevitable as it takes time for the ideas held within new academic articles to be fed into new editions of textbooks. To facilitate ease of access to the required information and knowledge, two textbooks were recommended that provided core information, and the articles were collected and made available to students in a restricted short loan area(note 16) of the university library.

Student Criteria

Content may be selected to reflect the needs and interests of the group, but there is no straightforward formula to guide lecturers in ensuring that the content and student considerations are directly linked (Cannon and Newble, 2000, p. 76).

An important criterion for any final year module is that it should provide a sound foundation for advanced study, should the students wish to progress to study the topic at postgraduate level (or use the knowledge in their work or social life). This means that the content of the module should include a breadth of issues that may be required at other universities for progression to the Masters level, but also some areas involving greater analysis to ensure that the content has the required depth.

Content should be updated each year. As research is undertaken across the world, it is vitally important to update our modules to make sure they are relevant, interesting and contemporary. Perhaps the ideal time for reflection and updating is at the end of the academic year despite the fact that new publications, case studies and theoretical developments are continuously occurring. The lecturer can reflect on how an individual session went and the level of student engagement and understanding immediately after the lecture. This knowledge and reflection will be lost the greater the period of time between the presentation and the modification of the content. So to ensure an effective and interesting module for the next academic year, it was my intention that the re-writing of lectures would be most effectively carried out on a continual basis, with literature integrated into lectures throughout the year, and the rewriting and reordering of lecture and seminar content immediately after lessons.

In reality, as colleagues and friends had warned me before the academic year began, my first year was relentless, with streams of students seeking advice, requests from other members of staff and numerous administrative requirements. Time for such module development was thus limited. Something had to give to ensure that periods for reflection were not lost, and that is where the evenings came into their own. Out goes the social life and in comes the work - perhaps an invasion of privacy, but it would get easier with experience, wouldn't it? Perhaps the pedagogy and content should have been selected to reflect both the needs and interests of the group and the limited amount of time that I had for module development.


Assessment is an important element of curriculum design and must be related to the objectives of the module. The proforma stated that there would be two assignments and a three-hour exam; I had to adopt this format.

Although these assessment constraints were 'set-in-stone' for my first teaching year, there was still room for manoeuvre. To ensure the content was understood by all students and to avoid a large amount of marking at one point in time, the decision was taken by the Module Leader and myself to develop a rolling approach for individual essay submission for one of the assignments, where each student would write an essay on the paper that they presented and submit it one week after presentation.(note 17)

To encourage reflection and learning from their peers' presentation styles and to increase their ability to identify good and bad presentation skills, formative feedback on the presentations was provided in the following way. At the end of the presentation, members of the audience were encouraged to ask questions and a debate would ensue. The presenters were then asked to leave the room and a discussion of how the presentation could have been improved was drawn out of the remaining class members. After discussion, the presenters returned to the classroom where feedback was given and points of clarification were made to the whole group concerning the presentation and the content of the paper. This confirmation of understanding and clarification permitted students to include this knowledge in their accompanying essay.

Since designing this module, I have learnt that this type of integration of course elements is termed 'jigsawing' in the educational literature. It appears to be a useful and effective way of ensuring a high level of interaction between students and for students to take control of their own learning. Students helped each other in the process of learning, as students in the audience asked questions of the students presenting the paper (improving their communication skills) which stimulated presenters to think critically about the content of the paper and resulted in competitive and collaborative group dynamics. Nevertheless, as a new teaching academic, I had no prior explicit knowledge of the jigsawing and scaffolding teaching techniques.


As different students learn in different ways, the decision was taken to adopt several approaches to teaching while the module was being developed. I learnt on the PDP course that these teaching techniques fall into three distinct styles. First, I was going to adopt the 'Teaching as Telling or Transmission' approach (Ramsden, 1992, pp. 111-2) for my lectures, but also to encourage interaction by asking students questions for them to illustrate to me their understanding of the information. Seminars were to be split into two separate, closely related activities: the presentation and the discussion of a recently published media article. Second, I was intending to use the 'Teaching as Organising Student Activity' approach (Ramsden, 1992, pp. 113-4) for the student presentation part of the seminars. Third, I was intent on using the 'Teaching as Making Learning Possible' approach (Ramsden, 1992, pp. 114-6) for the case study analysis part of the seminars. The first approach would be most appropriate for 'listeners'. The second approach would be most appropriate for 'interactors' and the third approach would be most appropriate for those who need evidence ('empiricists') before they can understand theory.


As a student, I (nearly) always enjoyed lectures, but many of my peers fell asleep! I did not want this to happen in my sessions so intended to encourage a high level of interaction. To ensure students listened and stayed awake, questions would be asked that related to the session's content. It was hoped that if the students knew that questions would be asked, then they might stay awake for longer. 'Breaks' would be employed to allow time for reflection before further 'brainstorming moments' were employed in which students would be set a task to do in a short period of time, usually in the middle of the lecture and usually in pairs.

As Baume and Baume (1996, p. 11) point out, questions can be used for a variety of purposes. In addition to making sure that the students had learned from the content of the lecture, questions could be asked to encourage students to apply information. However, these types of questions would not always be asked to gain a response; instead they would be often answered by myself. Although not being explicitly interactive, if the students take the view that the pause is there as I'm waiting for an answer, many students would be stimulated to think about the topic faster just in case they were asked for an answer. Questions would not only engage students, they would also be used to illustrate that the theory could be applied to the real world. Such questions would take the form of 'how does this contrast with...?', 'how can you put these ideas together?' or 'can you think of an example that was recently in the media?


I wanted my seminars to have high levels of intellectual performance and involvement by students and decided to integrate presentations to stimulate a very high level of learning-by-doing into the module. From my own experience, students learn well by practising something and I was not surprised to find this emphasised in the educational literature by Baume and Baume (1996, p. 9) during the course of the PDP.

To facilitate this learning-by-doing approach, the second assessment was an essay based on students' own presentation. It was hoped that they would find the article interesting enough to stimulate interaction. Students frequently identified that papers presented by their peers would be, in part at least, contradictory to their own. Students then discussed the content of each paper and passed the information that they had gathered on to their colleagues. This was believed to encourage active learning so that students would gain a deeper understanding of concepts.

The presentation of academic articles was deemed profitable for a number of reasons. First, it would encourage students to reflect on content: the presentation of information requires a thorough understanding of the material. Presentations would encourage an efficient use of resources and develop other key skills, such as using PowerPoint presentations, overhead projectors, handouts and resources, practice in presentations and public speaking.

Further good reasons for running group presentations are identified by Priestley and McGuire (1983). Several of their reasons are highlighted in italics. First, students are encouraged to express a point of view, to illustrate their understanding or to present evidence to support or reject theoretical propositions, thereby improving their conversational skills. This in turn would provide the students with increased self-confidence. Other obvious but very important considerations are that students would gain experience and pleasure of working with others (and they might even learn about each other) and provide each other with mutual aid and support. The question and answer period at the end of each presentation would encourage students to give and get feedback and develop their problem-solving skills.

In addition to the prior identification of appropriate journal articles, the second part of each seminar would include a case study article from either a newspaper (such as the Guardian) and/or a magazine (such as The Economist). An example would be the US decision to impose tariffs on steel imports, and the theoretical consequences of such actions on its domestic labour force. This would be accompanied by a set of questions on the article to encourage critical thinking, analysis and reflection.

One potential drawback of this approach is that there may be inequalities due to differential timing of essay submission, i.e. students submitting later in the term may have an advantage of understanding and learning presentation skills. I attempted to overcome this potential problem in two ways. First, I would present two papers at the start of the module to illustrate what would be expected; students took notes in these sessions. Second, I informed students that I would provide the first group of presenters with lots of guidance and this then attracted several individuals to the earlier papers.(note 18) I listed the papers and dates for their presentation and students were encouraged to select papers that would be presented when there were few pieces of coursework to submit for their other modules and where the paper was linked to their own interests. These three actions were deemed appropriate in several ways. First, it allowed students to take control of their own learning by indirectly selecting the date for their presentation and essay submission and by encouraging them to decide which paper they would present. Many students consulted the papers in advance of the deadline for selection. Second, keen students decided to get their presentation out of the way at the start of the academic year, thereby installing a high initial level of presentation, with which subsequent students appeared to compete. The majority of presentations surpassed expectations and good essay marks were achieved (which were double-blind-marked).

Policy Recommendations

Within the School, students are surveyed twice a year to obtain feedback and impressions about the course and how they are coping with the content and assessments. When reflecting on the positive criticism obtained from student evaluations (such as 'well-organised', 'well-structured', etc.), it should be noted that these positive comments could be entirely attributable to the advice offered to me from colleagues and friends across different universities, which resulted in the high amount of preparation for the module before the start of term.

One conclusion that could be identified from this work is the need for guidance and help for younger members of staff who may not know the value of this advice at the time it is offered. University staff should be approachable and should actively encourage new members to interact and make them feel able to ask questions.

Given that the module is already highly interactive and has contemporary content, there is scope for research to be carried out to identify whether different methods of information dissemination and assessment generate higher quality learning. Also, given the different levels of students' ability, willingness to integrate into the group and attendance, larger/smaller group presentations would encourage less/greater reliance on student peers to help students through the module. It would be interesting to identify whether smaller group presentations would result in a lower number of free riders and a greater level of understanding by each student. Moreover, with more time for reflection, it might be worth identifying whether different methods of lecturing could also be employed. For instance, frequent formative tests and interactive PowerPoint presentations could be employed in the future to concentrate students' minds and to capture imaginations.


This paper has presented reflections on curriculum development, pedagogy and assessment within a core, final year, undergraduate economics module - International Economic Policy - from the perspective of a new academic. It has detailed and discussed experiences of writing and compiling the module and has presented reflections based on knowledge and readings gathered on a Professional Development Programme. Particular emphasis has been placed on my experience of designing and implementing the module, with particular foci on intentions, content, assessment and delivery.

Several points are worth reiterating. First, a new academic might have little idea of how to teach effectively or how to overcome problems with student comprehension. Second, new academics should be encouraged to seek advice from more experienced colleagues, while established academics should be aware of the difficulties that the new academics face and offer appropriate assistance. Third, individuals forming policy to make new academics more effective teachers should recognise that they will have very little time to learn how to teach and to gather information that will increase their teaching performance, especially if their efforts are more geared towards research. Fourth, any guidance offered by established academics may not be fully understood at the time it is offered as new academics might not have the time to reflect on such advice.


Baume, D. and C. Baume (1996) Running Tutorials and Seminars Training Materials for Research Students, Oxford Centre for Staff Development, Oxford.

Cannon, R. and D. Newble (2000) A Handbook for Teachers in Universities and Colleges, Kogan Page, London

Ormerod, P. (1994) The Death of Economics, Faber and Faber Limited, London.

Priestley, P. and J. McGuire (1983) Learning to Help: Basic Skills Exercises, Tavistock Publications, London.

Ramsden, P. (1992) Learning to Teach in Higher Education, Routledge, London


[1] The aims, objectives, needs of the students, co- and pre-requisite assessment parameters and learning outcomes were stated and the module was deemed appropriate for the University's commitments to students and for the degree that the students were taking prior to my contribution.

[2] As this module would be a core, it was decided that a more senior member of the School should have ultimate responsibility for its quality.

[3] Although keen and eager to develop modules, I had only written conference presentations, seminars and the odd lecture, but never sequential lectures and seminars.

[4] Enrolment on the PDP is a requirement for inexperienced lecturers joining the University. Successful completion is a requirement of the University before either tenure is granted or the probationary period is officially completed. Successful completion also gives the candidate automatic ILT status and a Post-Graduate Certificate of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education.

[5] This reference was bought to my attention during the first few sessions of the PDP course. However, it did not form the basis of my curriculum development, pedagogy and assessment. It is merely utilised here for structure, around which my reflections are based. As I had received very little teacher training, I knew of no literature that I could use to help me through these issues. As a new lecturer, I also had very little time to search for such literature.

[6] These factors are based on my own experiences of being a student. I aspired to become as good as the excellent lecturers who once taught me by adopting some of the characteristics of their lectures that interested my peers and I. I also aspired to be much better than those lecturers who I felt were less good by choosing not to adopt certain characteristics of their teaching techniques that I deemed to be less helpful and less inspiring for my peers and I.

[7] Cannon and Newble (2000, p. 72) also suggest that 'courses may reflect explicit legal and professional requirements'. This issue is not covered here because of the lack of professional requirements in the economics awards at the University.

[8] In practice, throughout the early lectures my focus was on whether the students' knowledge of the core concepts was clear. To identify whether this was the case, open questions were frequently asked to students in lectures and seminars.

[9] For instance, sector-biased technical change was followed by skill-biased technical change.

[10] Scaffolding and jigsawing were approaches that I decided to adopt, but at the time I had no idea that these were identified teaching techniques. As a student I found them to be methods that good lecturers adopted in their teaching style. Hence, these methods were adopted due to the observation of good lecturers as a student, rather than a genuine knowledge of methods that could be used in order to become an effective lecturer.

[11] I was left wondering whether the amount of effort it took to develop a highly contemporary, journal article-based and relatively innovative module would be worthwhile, or whether I should have used a recent textbook that provides a broad sweep of the related issues (often in a relatively dry and uninspiring way).

[12] In practice, this led to frequent, but enjoyable, conversations with students who wished to gain further clarity of understanding of the issues before they made their presentation.

[13] Frequently attitudes were expressed that were not supported by critical thought; indeed, sometimes prejudicial remarks were made. These remarks were not dismissed outright; instead the student was asked to develop his or her ideas so that the rest of the class could understand why such a view might be adopted. Sometimes views could not be constructively supported and in such cases the student was asked to think about certain issues that might lead to different conclusions.

[14] As IEP is a final year, core undergraduate module, there was the assurance that the size of the class would be between 40 and 70 students, depending on whether students following other courses would decide to chose this module and summer exam pass rates. When the module actually began in September 2001, 40 students took the module. These students were split into two seminar groups.

Two students would make each presentation and both presenters were expected to make a significant contribution. Attendance was recorded at every seminar. It was in the students' interest to attend all seminars, as there would be a question in the exam specifically on the paper that was presented. Seminar attendance was good. An average of 91.32% of students attended every presentation. The individual with the lowest attendance attended a mere 71% of the time.

[15] These were photocopied and placed in the short loan section of the University library. Short loan articles are only available for loan for a four-hour period, and are reservable. Therefore there were few concerns about accessibility to these articles and the effort by the students to access them was small. Moreover, most of the articles were also accessible through the University Web site and this type of access was demonstrated in the first seminar.

[16] Another reason why this was thought to be beneficial is that it made students search for information and thereby introduced them to research culture.

[17] The other assignment was an essay of the traditional format.

[18] In actuality, I did not give the first group of students any more help than others. All students read their papers in good time to be able to ask for clarification.


The author would like to thank Dave Allen for his ideas and inspiration throughout the development of this module. For guidance and advice obtained prior to the development of the curriculum, the author would like to thank Derek Braddon, Mike Campbell, William Collier, Steve Johnson, Peter Nisbet, Richard O'Doherty, Paul Seaman, Mike Shields, John Sutherland, Wayne Thomas and Roger Vickerman. For comments on earlier drafts, the author thanks Gail Horsley, Richard O'Doherty, Marelin Orr-Ewing, Jane Powell and John Sloman.

Contact Details

Don J.Webber
School of Economics
University of the West of England
Frenchay Campus
Bristol, BS16 1QY UK

Tel: +44 117 328 2741

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