The Economics Network

Improving economics teaching and learning for over 20 years

Results of the 2011 Economics Network Survey of Lecturers

Executive summary

This is a summary of the report and analysis of the Economics Network Lecturers survey, carried out in March to April 2011. The full report is available as a PDF.

This survey, along with the Student, Alumni and Employers surveys, is part of the centre’s research programme into teaching and learning in Economics, The main objectives of this survey included clarifying current practices and issues of concern to Economics lecturers and their students, as well as providing the Economics Network and its stakeholders with information about how Economics lecturers use our services and what impact it has on their teaching.

This is an observational survey and was conducted online for ease of use and low cost. The majority of questions (18 out of 21) were already used in the 2009 survey and are divided into three sections, including free-text commentary.

Profile of respondents

There were 145 respondents from 57 HE institutions across the UK. The results of the survey describe our typical respondent as:

  • Male (71.0%)
  • First language English (66.9%)
  • In the post of Lecturer or Senior Lecturer (60.7%)
  • With more then 10 years of experience in teaching in HE (57.3%)
  • Having one or more of the administrative roles (93.1%)
  • Not a member of the Royal Economic Society (75.0%)
  • Publishing at least one article in the past five years (75.2%)
  • Not having authored or co-authored any books in the past five years (87.1%)
  • Not edited or co edited any books in the past five years (95.2%)
  •  Not written chapters, published in volumes edited by someone else (55.1%)

Key results

A.  About teaching Economics

When asked about support or advice for their teaching, the majority (69.6%) report receiving advice from colleagues; 40.0% from a central university Education Development/Support Unit; 44.8% from the Economics Network; and 8.9% stated that no support was required. Respondents also commented on various sources of advice and support.

When asked about funding received for a teaching/learning project, more than three-quarters of respondents report that they have not received any. Among those who succeeded in obtaining funding 13.1% received funding from the Economics Network and 11.7% from their university.

Respondents were asked if they had received a teaching award and 23.4% gave a positive answer with the awards coming from the Economics network, HE Academy and institutions.

B.  Change in teaching practice

Since 2003 in all our lecturers’ surveys we have asked respondents if they have changed their teaching practice in the past two years. This year had seen the highest number of those who have changed it: nearly three-quarters of respondents reported some change in teaching practice. Reasons for change included: students skills and abilities (46.2%); feedback from students (44.8%); support to large number of students (40.0%); suggestions from workshops (25.5%); and colleagues’ suggestions (24.8%).

In their comments lecturers described their reasons for change and their actions. This continuing trend for change of teaching practice due to various reasons increases the demand for services and resources provided by the Economics Network.

C.  Most important issues in teaching

Respondents were offered a list of current teaching issues and asked to select those which they and their colleagues consider very important (they could select as many issues as they thought relevant in their current teaching). Nearly three-quarters of respondents chose Student motivation as the most important issue; while two-thirds chose Student math’s skills and more than half of the respondents mentioned Plagiarism and Large number of students in lectures and Large tutorial groups. Another issue mentioned by more than a third of respondents is Specific needs of international students.

As well as commenting on these issues, respondents wrote about various pressures on their time and differential rewards for success in research and teaching.

D.  Support from the Economics Network

Respondents were asked about the Economics Network’s services and resources. More than half of them (57.2%) replied that they use Economics Network services and resources and positively assessed their value.

We asked lecturers who had not used Economics Network resources to comment on their reasons. The majority stressed “time” as a major barrier (I am severely time-constrained) as well as lack of knowledge about the resources (I didn't know all the possibilities).

Those who had used Economics Network resources and services were asked to comment on how it had influenced their teaching and what improvements this made to student learning or educational experience. In their replies many respondents praised the work of the Economics Network (Overall, it's the cumulative effect of EN in stimulating regular rethinks of all aspects of student learning in my subjects and in my environmental context) and provided suggestions for its future developments.

The Economics Network works with potential and current students by providing resources through  and The majority of respondents were aware of these sites and encourage students to use them (Helpful links to topical issues – important in communicating economics to non-economists).

Respondents were also asked to share the websites they recommend to their students and their replies will be used to update resources on the Studying Economics site.

E.  Specialist area networks

At the time of the survey the Economics Network was supporting the DeSTRESS project (http://economicsnetwork/projects/destress) which intends to share and create resources to support statistical literacy in economics and other social sciences. More than a third of respondents were positive when asked if they would be interested in contributing to this project and their names were passed to the leader of the specialist group.

Respondents were also asked if they make use of openly licensed resources and nearly half of them replied that they did not know what openly licensed means.

F.  Conclusions

Results of the survey demonstrated positive support from the community for the work of the Economics Network. They will also inform the centre’s strategy and planning of the events, resources, briefings and publications in support of economics lecturers.

Read the full report