I am leaving the Developments in Economics Education Conference 2019 full of new ideas on how to make our economics curriculum an even better experience for our UniDistance students.
One of the main topics of the conference was employability skills, with the presentation of the first results of the 2019 Employers survey and Employability skills survey by Cloda Jenkins from UCL. Many employers are looking for students who can communicate clearly with non-specialists and analyse various issues, as well as cooperate with people from diverse backgrounds. These skills need to be developed throughout the curriculum, in a systematic way. Authentic, workplace type assignments would help develop these skills. More interaction between faculty and employers would help understand their needs better. It seems that often employers and academics define skills differently (e.g.: academic communication vs. communicating for lay people)
A second important theme was having fun. To learn we need to enjoy the process, both students and faculty and there were many ways to make activities or assignments engaging and varied: Javier Sierra’s micro-finance
game, understanding bounded reality using a classroom experiment (A. Gourlay, Ch. Wilson and A. R. Bennato), creating individual learning paths to meet the needs of a diverse group of learners (UCL’s foreign office course), flipping the classroom with CORE (Carlos Cortinhas), problem-based learning (Tim Burnett) and even an economics play that got the whole audience laughing (R. Solinai and M. Morroni).
A third theme was assessment. Employers did not see the point of closed book examinations if you want people to cooperate and communicate. More authentic assignments would help develop the skills students will need after graduation. Amrish Patel and Fabio Arico shared their experience with students writing a consulting report for the micro course to illustrate choice under uncertainty, which led to strong student engagement and queues during office hours! The group video assignment in the first year at LSE was another way of developing employability skills. Peer marking in a flipped classroom showed to have a positive effect on student outcomes (Rabeya and Elinor Jones).
I will keep for another time our discussions on feedback, supporting diversity, the epistemology of economics and carrying out quality research on education.
A big thank you to the DEE 2019 team and looking forward to DEE 2021.