Evidence-Based Teaching in Economics

Paper Session

Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017 2:30 PM – 4:30 PM

Hyatt Regency Chicago, Toronto
Hosted By: American Economic Association
  • Chair: Jennifer Imazeki, San Diego State University

Evidence-Based Teaching in Economics: An Overview

Jennifer Imazeki
San Diego State University


Economics is a discipline grounded in empirical evidence: we use theories and models to explain and make predictions about human behavior but only accept those theories and models (and their resulting explanations and predictions) when they are borne out in observable data. As scholars, we would never embark on a new research project without first studying the empirical findings of others in our field. And yet, as teachers, we often act as if we were the first to ever step foot in a classroom, ignoring the work of all the instructors from whom we could learn. In this paper, I suggest that we should apply a scholarly approach to our teaching, and discuss multiple types of evidence that may be relevant for our work as instructors.

Maximizing Efficient Student Talk: Lessons from Team-Based Learning and Cooperative Learning

Mark Maier
Glendale Community College


Higher education instructors looking for guidance on using small groups in the classroom have two evidence-based and theory-based pedagogies available: Team-Based Learning (TBL) and Cooperative Learning (CL). In economics education these two approaches both have support in the literature, but little comparison between them. In this paper, I assess the two pedagogies for use in economics principles courses. I conclude that TBL has two components that instructors will want to consider: Immediate Feedback/Assessment Tests and specific choice Application Exercises. However, CL offers the most appropriate structures for group work when the goal is student understanding and application of basic concepts. This paper includes preliminary evidence and, based on work in other disciplines, suggestions for improved data collection. An appendix provides examples of cooperative learning structures for use in economics principles courses.

Adaptive Learning as a Tool to Build Content Mastery

Karen Gebhardt
Colorado State University


In July 2016, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) awarded seven universities, which included Colorado State University (CSU), grants to accelerate the implementation of adaptive courseware in high-enrollment and blended learning environments to improve student success. Adaptive learning courseware tends to self-paced, is often graded based on completion, allows for flexibility in the timing of completion, and frequently includes features to improve metacognitive awareness. Because of these characteristics, adaptive learning courseware can lead to higher levels of content mastery because within the courseware there is a variety paths a student can take to obtain mastery, the courseware focuses student effort towards content not mastered, and the student is required to keep working until mastery is demonstrated. An adaptive learning tool (LearnSmart from McGraw-Hill) was integrated into all high-enrollment sections of Principles of Microeconomics at CSU during the fall 2016 semester. This paper explores preliminary results of the relationship between student interaction with the adaptive learning courseware and content mastery.

Are Your Students Absent, Not Absent, or Present? Mindfulness and Student Performance

Eric P. Chiang
Florida Atlantic University
Albert J. Sumell
Youngstown State University


Jose J. Vazquez Cognet
University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign
Molly Espey
Clemson University
William Goffe
Pennsylvania State University
Oskar Harmon
University of Connecticut
JEL Classifications
  • A2 - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics