Response to Bob Rycroft

Bob raised the $64 question in his comment on my initial Radical Revision posting when he asked, “How will this new pedagogy actually play out in the classroom. If it works well, what would the actual classroom dynamics be?”

The short answer is, I don’t know for sure. But I have a couple thoughts on the matter.

This pedagogy is closely related to Just-in-Time Teaching. For those of you who don’t know, JIT assigns students work which they presumably do, and assesses their learning before classtime. The instructor reviews the assessments to determine how he or she will spend class time. Now my assessment will be done at the students’ own pace so it will not likely occur completely before class. But the basic problem for the instructor should be similar–matching class time with content to be covered.

My last posting explained that I’m viewing class sessions as essentially a laboratory experience, where we will do activities that demonstrate the economic content, rather than just hearing about it. So for each topic in the course, and I’m defining these topics broadly as the sections my course outline is broken down into, I plan to have a one or more activities to perform. I will no doubt have to adjust what we do on the fly, either expanding or contracting, but I have some ideas of how that might be done. For example, I can have the students do more or fewer group problems.

I also plan to spend some time (again more or less) modeling the metacognitive activities I want the students to do ultimately on their own. For example, Jerry Slezak suggested making the first few required, leaving the rest optional. A good suggestion! I think I’ll take that a step further and spend class time working thru the first formative assessments of both types (interactive quizzes on each text chapter, and filling in the metacognitive framework for each syllabus topic). The next one or two assignments will be required. The rest will be optional, but hopefully students will have seen their value by then.

I’ve always had too much material to cover in the time available, so I’m hoping this pedagogy will help with that. I plan on keeping to a strict weekly schedule, but exactly what I cover each class will depend on how many questions the students have. Overtime, I hope to have a better sense of what topics they’ll ask questions about and how much time on average it should take.

This entry was posted in Teaching and Learning, The Experiment. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Response to Bob Rycroft

  1. rrycroft says:

    Good response. That clarified things for me greatly. I think you are ripe for doing classroom games and experiments.

  2. This just gets better and better.

    A very thoughtful piece over on CogDogBlog speaks to concerns about student evaluations: There are connections here, though I won’t try to tease them all out in a comment.

    I think that a rich online environment–wikis and a forum, in particular–could be a big help in guiding students through preparation for and reflection on the activities and the metacognitive prompts. I bet you’re already thinking in this direction.

  3. Steve says:


    Yes, I agree. Can you suggest any good macro games or experiments? My sense is that there are relatively more of them in micro.

    – Steve

  4. rrycroft says:

    You are certainly right about that. There are more micro than macro experiments. Of course, the first several weeks of Econ 201 is essentially micro with room for a demand and supply experiment, price control experiment, gains from trade experiment.

    With respect to macro experiments, see:

    Denise Hazlett ( has some interesting macro experiments.
    List of Experiments

    1. Federal Funds Market Experiment.
    2. Consumer Price Index Experiment
    3. Unemployment Compensation Experiment.
    4. Investment Coordination Experiment
    5. Money as a Medium of Exchange Experiment
    6. The Effects of Real vs. Nominal Interest Rates on Investment
    I’ve done the money as a medium of exchange experiment several times and thought it worked well (Steve DeLoach has also done it.).

    Another source of macro experiments is “Games Economists Play”

    “Classroom Expernomics” also has a few macro games

    Charles Holt and Jacob Goree put together an interesting macro game involving the labor and product markets. Remember a few years ago we were considering using it for both our classes, but never got around to doing it. I have a copy of the paper but you could probably also get it at Holt or Goree’s web pages.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *