Student Achievement Assessment Committee
B.S. & B.A. Economics
2002-2003 ACADEMIC YEAR
1. A command of basic characteristics of the American and global economy by using this
knowledge to critically evaluate economic outcomes
2. A command of basic economic theory by using this theory to make predictions and to analyze alternative economic policy options
3.Tthe ability to communicate in both oral and written forms by presenting arguments and evidence clearly and concisely
4. The ability to engage in and understand moral reasoning with respect to economic issues by recognizing the implicit value conflicts present in all economic policy debates
5. The ability to engage in problem solving using basic economic theory;
6. The ability to engage in critical thinking as a part of the analysis of economic problems
Students are required, in these programs, to take two particular courses that we see as fundamental to the degree, Intermediate Microeconomic Theory (ECON 302) and Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory (ECON 303). We base our assessment on these courses with the primary assessment being by the examinations given during the semester. These courses are taken by students other than economics majors and as a consequence, part of our assessment effort is likely to include these non-economics students as part of the process. However, if these students are obtaining the objectives we have set out, there is some reason to think that our students will as well.
In addition, the principles of economics courses, Econ 202 and 203 are a basis for these intermediate courses. Too, they are general education courses and are required of all students in the College of Business Administration. Our assessment takes place for both the intermediate and the principles classes.
To assess the outcomes given above, we have the following process. In the principles classes and the intermediate level classes, we collect from each faculty giving essay tests or tests with essay questions, a copy of the median student in the class on the first test and then follow that student through the semester looking to see if there is growth or if they have developed deeper understandings as the semester passes. We are also looking to see if there is evidence that this student has mastered our learning outcomes to a degree we find satisfactory. These papers are then read by the department Curriculum Committee for consistency with the criteria.
A few years ago, the Department, under the leadership of Dr. Browne, established some general education rubrics for assessment. This effort required faculty to come to some agreement on what we mean by some particular skills. Our experience was that while we agree that students should communicate clearly, we could not identify the traits that mark clear communication, and there was disagreement when we tried to identify the traits in student papers. After some effort, we decided to parse down the list of things we are looking for to a shorter, more manageable list. The table below is driven by our learning outcomes, and we can make the following matches.
Use chains of deductive reasoning to help understand
Use creative skills to frame question and choose tools
Explain significance of solution
Identify reasons in support of conclude
Make explicit argument and provide evidence
Recognize value tradeoff
B1 is linked to learning outcomes 2 and 5
B2 is linked to learning outcomes 2 and 5
B3 is linked to learning outcome 5
B4 is linked to learning outcome 3
B5 is linked to learning outcome 4
B6 is linked to learning outcome 6
B7 is linked to learning outcomes 6 and 1
For this year, we have the following results.
At the principles level, the ability to identify tradeoffs was relatively uniform and of satisfactory quality. The ability to use chains of deductive reasoning was also demonstrated. Creative ways to frame questions and choose tools was one of the weaker areas. Students were often directed in particular directions and still did not see the tools to use. Students were able to explain the significance of the problem and the solution. Generally, and in line with the use of deductive reasoning, they did provide reasons for their conclusions. They were making explicit arguments. Perhaps the weakest area was that of values tradeoff. Students could see the tradeoff of the economic issues, but values were not clearly associated with the economic variables.
At the intermediate level, the students are largely students from the College of Business Administration. They are not generally economics majors. The performance by students was somewhat weaker than for the principles level students. However, the strengths and weaknesses were about the same. That is, there was a relative weakness in the areas of using creative skills to frame questions and in value tradeoffs. The other areas were performed at an acceptable level.
Based on these results, it is not clear that some change in curriculum needs to be contemplated. However, we will examine the assessment effort to try to more cleanly break apart the general education assessment from the economics program assessments.