Category Archives: Economics

Economically, my dear Watson

What has Sherlock Holmes got to do with teaching economics? Possibly, quite a lot. It’s one of the many thought provoking insights that I got from attending the DEE09 conference last week …

Daniel Blackshields of University College Cork presented a paper on how he uses the Sherlock Holmes Investigative Model (SHIM) to teach students to approach economics in an investigative fashion.

Poster from the SHIM session – a full sized image is also available.

This 12 week performance workshop for arts economics students uses a detective motif to get students thinking about economics in a different way, to reflect on how they are thinking / learning and hands over ownership of the process by asking students to apply the model themselves.

Blackshields intrigues them by using examples from the popular TV series CSI, strips out the technology by going back to Sherlock Holmes, relates it to economics by citing the economics detective Henry Spearman and shows how to use it in economics research with examples from popular texts such as Freakonomics.

Students are shown that economics tries to deal with uncertainty, but that the action of looking for clues and deciding which are relevant can lead to pattern recognition. This leads on to them formulating a hypothesis and gives them a working conjecture to test – much like Holmes and his use of deduction – so that students should never guess, but always follow the evidence.

It was a thoroughly charming presentation that turned upside down notions of traditional teaching methods, as well as acting as a reminder that out own Internet Detective may have some wider application.

This part of the programme also featured work on Linking Research and Teaching in Economics by Linda Juleff of Napier University. She introduced us to the case studies from Economics Network in this area that have come out of their regular lecturer surveys.

Michael Watts of Purdue University galloped through an impressive array of survey data from the United States looking at Time Allocations and Reward Structures for U.S. Academic Economists from 1995-2005 – suggesting that males, professors and non-native English speakers get to spend more time on research than others.

This parallel session gave a comprehensive look at the numbers behind, attitudes towards and teaching of economics research, with the skill of the presenters making it seem, quite elementary, my dear Watson!

Further updates from the conference will appear on the DEE09 blog including a round-up of the keynotes featuring Robert Chote, Director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Or take a look at the recommended links on Delicious or photos from dee09 on Flickr.

What’s next in Economics education?

Intute will be at the DEE (Developments in Economics Education) conference in Cardiff over the next few days.

We will be part of a session called Economics 2.0 that will be looking at how Web 2.0 developments such as podcasting, blogs and other forms of social media can be used to enhance teaching and learning in Economics.

The Intute part of the session will focus on how to help students cope with the plethora of information that is available online and how the new edition of the Internet for Economics (part of the Virtual Training Suite) can be of assistance.

The session will feature contributions from Bhagesh Sachania of the Economics Network who will be talking about podcasting / audio for economics and Zak Mensah of JISC Digital Media who will be talking about using Social Media to enhance learning materials.

In fact, we will be trying to practice what we preach and will be running a bit of a Social Media experiment and trying to cover the whole conference over at the DEE09 blog, that brings together resources relating to our session, as well as from the wider conference.

The conference features a keynote address from Robert Chote of the Institute for Fiscal Studies and a broad programme that includes strands on pluralism, teaching delivery and relating research to teaching.

Follow @intuteeconomics on Twitter for further updates relating to dee09.

Intute features more Internet resources on the topic of Economics.

Where’s my jetpack? Episode 83

The recent World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in Montreal saw Science Fiction writer Charlie Stross in conversation with Science Fiction fan and Nobel Economics Laureate Paul Krugman.

A recording of the 75 minute session is online and embedded below – it looks at how Science Fiction and Economics can intersect.


In a wide ranging conversation (a transcript is available) the pair discuss issues such as how the world has shrunk to the size of the English Home Counties in 1809, the concept of Future Shock and that perennial favourite – where’s my jetpack?

However, as you may be able to tell from the video below, the jetpack is already here …

The economics of Science Fiction has been tackled by a number of economists and Robin Hanson of George Mason University has a nice summary of some of the key academic papers “in the field”, which includes Krugman’s 1978 paper on The Theory of Interstellar Trade.

Normally at this point, I would try to point to some related Intute resources on this subject … while we certainly do have some academic links relating to Science Fiction and the issue of International Trade – we are sadly lacking in the area of intergalactic economics … my apologies.

ESDS International videos now on YouTube

Colleagues have alerted us that there is an ESDS International YouTube channel with videos from their last annual conference.

In includes videos on the World Bank Africa Development Indicators, labour market indicators and the Millennium Development Goals and cross-national attitudinal research.

Audio, video and slides from the conference are also available to download and you can find out more about ESDS International.

If you want to learn more about using Internet resources in these subjects, then why not try the new edition of the Internet for Social Research Methods tutorial from the Virtual Training Suite.

Intute also features more Internet resources on the issues of Statistics and Data, Development Economics and more educational YouTube channels.

Developments in Economics Education conference

The Developments in Economics Education (DEE) conference draft programme has been published and you can now book a place at the conference.

DEE 2009 takes place on 9-10 September 2009, at the Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff, UK.

The fifth international Developments in Economics Education Conference will present the latest developments in economics higher education. It will showcase activities and resources, present latest research as well as provide practical advice. The conference is aimed at anyone with an interest in teaching economics at HE level.

Keynote speakers are:

The conference will be held at the award-winning Wales Millennium Centre, 20 minutes walk from the centre of Cardiff. The conference dinner will be held at the historic and elegant National Museum Wales in the heart of Cardiff and famous for housing one of the finest art collections in Europe.

For those who would like to know more about the DEE Conference, try these blog posts from the last DEE Conference that was held in Cambridge.

Intute: Social Sciences features more Internet resources on Economics.

Funding Higher Education – the student view

The National Union of Students has published a Blueprint for funding Higher Education that puts an end to top-up fees.

This come in the context of Higher Education institutions looking for more funds, perhaps by raising the current cap on tuition fees.

However, recent figures from HESA may suggest that such fees could be putting off students from lower income households going to University.

The Blueprint summary and full report offer detailed information on their scheme, which aims to provide more money to the sector, a mechanism to encourage contributions from businesses and a fairer payment system for low earners and part-time students.

Key proposals from the NUS include:

Progressive graduate contributions – not a simple graduate tax, but variable contributions over a maximum of 20 years, related to ability to pay as measured by earnings and with a threshold below which nothing is paid.

People’s Trust for Higher Education – where the contributions would be paid in and paid out, which would be built up over time and would mean less direct Government support being needed in the long term.

The report includes economic models provided by the Centre for Economics and Business Research alongside various case studies of what it would mean for different types of graduates.

Intute: Social Sciences features more Internet resources on Higher Education funding.

Global Trade Alert

Global Trade Alert (GTA) is a new website co-ordinated by the Centre for Economics Policy Research (CEPR) in London, that provides real-time information on – and analysis of – measures taken by governments during the global downturn that are likely to discriminate against foreign commerce.

GTA draws on expertise from independent research institutes in seven regions. These research institutes will identify new state measures as they are introduced, assess their potential impact on trading partners, and carry out detailed research on the measures.

Trade measures are listed chronologically, with users able to filter results by the affected trading partner, implementing jurisdiction or trade sector. The measures are briefly described and have accompanying comments that consider whether there was any evidence-based deliberation in their formulation.

The Centre for Economic Policy Research is also responsible for a website that brings together academic commentary on economic policy issues, including the Global Financial Crisis and produces a range of audio interviews with leading economists.

Intute: Social Sciences features more resources on the topic of International Trade.

CentrePiece : the education issue

A long-running research programme at the Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) has been assessing the effectiveness of the UK’s educational policies in raising standards.

A series of studies has evaluated efforts both to improve the quality of education overall and to tackle the `long tail’ of people without basic skills by giving better opportunities to low-achieving, `hard-to-reach’ children from poorer families.

The latest issue of CentrePiece, published this week, provides an overview of some of the most significant findings across a wide range of policies.

Key findings from this collection of studies include:

Academies have improved their GCSE performance after changing status – but so have comparable schools that did not become academies.

Raising the school leaving age – as the UK government is currently proposing to do – may increase regional mobility and improve the employment outcomes of the least educated segment of the population.

Higher ability pupils tend to be graded higher by tests than by the teachers – and lower achieving pupils better by the teachers than by the tests.

The effects of higher spending on educational attainment have been consistently positive across all areas tested at the end of primary education. Resource-based interventions seem to produce their best outcomes when targeted towards pupils and schools in real need.

Remedial programmes are not working for a significant proportion of children labelled as SEN. There is no net effect of being labelled as SEN on the performance of pupils with moderate difficulties.

Intute: Social Sciences features more Internet resources on the Economics of Education.

Some Small Changes to Intute: Economics

There have been a few small changes to the Economics section of Intute: Social Sciences.

Internet Economics replaces the former section on e-commerce and will have a much broader remit that covers all aspects of the digital economy and the economics of online life.

Regional Economics is the new name for Economics by Region or Country and has been stripped down, so that it looks at the topic of financial activity analysed by geographic regions, rather than any site which looks at the economy of any economy.

In the future, there will be more coverage of Economics resources pertaining to specific countries – for example India or China – at the moment, the best way of getting to these resources is by performing an Advanced Search and filtering the results to just Economics records.

Intute advanced search China and economics

It is hoped that this will also lead to dedicated sections on key economies from around the world, such as the American or UK economy and not just the newly emerging markets mentioned above.

The sub-divisions of EU Economics have gone with the resources allocated to the appropriate part of the subject structure if they tackle a specific topic – such as Agricultural Economics – those with a broad European or specifically EU scope will be kept in EU Economics.

There is in-depth coverage of European issues as part of the European Studies section within Intute: Social Sciences and in the Area Studies sections of Intute: Arts and Humanities.

As mentioned previously, a new section covering the topic of Behavioural Economics will be built over the coming months – looking at the psychological aspects of how economics works and how this can affect economic decision making.

Much of the work on these changes will take place in the near future, but if you have a favourite website in these or any other Economics subject, then feel free to get in touch to Suggest a Site if you think it will be of use / interest to the academic community.

Intute: Social Sciences features more Internet resources on the topic of Economics.

Does Your Behaviour Influence Economics

Or is the world of economics influencing your behaviour?

Behavioural Economics is an emerging field within the discipline and Intute could do with some more resources on this topic.

What is behavioural economics? Essentially it looks at how economic decisions are made, as opposed to the how they should be made by an economically rational being or organisation.

Dan Ariely, the author of Predictably Irrational offers his thoughts on the topic in this YouTube video produced by Duke University.

He touches on the relationship with classical economics and how it can make economics feel less like the arena of  Superman and more like that of Homer Simpson – but that is not a bad thing.

… and there are more videos on behavioural economics at YouTube/edu.

from MrsBlogsBlogs.

In terms of the application of behavioural economics to public policy, the New Economics Foundation had outlined  seven principles for policy-makers and Liam Delaney has written about why policymakers should care about behavioural economics over at the Irish Economy.

For some further reading try some academic papers on the topic of behavioural economics via EconPapers or discover similar content via Google Scholar and Google Book Search.

The Economics Network has some teaching and learning resources on the subject, while it has been the topic of seminars at banks, courses taught at MIT and possibly made it into the White House.

There is not currently a section on behavioural economics within Intute: Economics, but if there are enough relevant Internet resources on the subject that can change.

Intute: Social Sciences features a few Internet resources on behavioural economics but help us find more by suggesting a site.