Track 5: Promoting staff and student success

Premiere: Monday 26 June, starting at 3pm BST//10am EDT


Healthy Pedagogy: Using Virtual Breakrooms to Enhance Student Well-Being in Your Economics Course

Joab Corey, University of California, Riverside

Abstract – coming soon

The Unknown Unknowns: Concept Checks to Address Illusions of Knowing

EeCheng Ong, National University of Singapore, co-presenting with Yang Zhang, National University of Singapore


Instructors and students often overestimate the depth of students’ understanding of new material. While novice students operate in a state of unconscious incompetence, instructors who are domain experts are often in a state of unconscious competence (Sprague and Stuart, 2000).

Solving an economic model requires integration and application of multiple component knowledge and skills. Faced with a complex task, students tend to focus on the procedural knowledge — how to solve the model — while ignoring the conceptual knowledge — what the model means.

To address illusions of knowing and develop conceptual mastery, we employ concept checks in our introductory, intermediate, and advanced microeconomics courses. A concept check is a decomposed question that dispenses with mathematical derivations and calculations. Questions are framed in a novel manner, preventing students from relying on memory.

To construct a concept check, we first identify learning bottlenecks. We articulate learning objectives based on those bottlenecks, then design a concept check to fulfill those objectives. Developing conceptual mastery generally involves remembering, understanding, analyzing, and evaluating (Anderson and Krathwohl, 2001). Examples of the cognitive processes embedded in concept checks include: (i) recalling the definition of a concept; (ii) interpreting verbal, mathematical, and graphical representations of concepts; (iii) comparing scenarios, e.g., the firm’s decisions in the short run versus the long run; (iv) predicting the implications of a scenario; (v) explaining how two concepts are related, e.g., Pareto efficiency and Pareto improvement; and (vi) evaluating whether a conclusion follows from its premises.
Concept checks are applicable in almost every economics class and can be easily scaled up. For large classes, we structure the concept checks as multiple-choice questions or true-false questions so we can poll students on their answers. The immediacy of feedback helps students to calibrate their understanding and prevents misconceptions from becoming entrenched over the course of the semester.

Success Stool: A Simple Framework for Continually Improving Teaching

Brandon Sheridan, Elon University

Educators often leave conferences, workshops, or other professional development sessions energized to modify their courses, but then quickly lose momentum after they start trying the technique in their classroom. To address this issue I introduce a customizable, easy-to-use, and relatively low time-cost framework that can help any instructor continually improve as an educator and incorporate more evidence-based learning strategies into their courses. The framework consists of three mutually reinforcing parts: a semester plan, a weekly self-reflection, and an accountability partner. Each part consists of tangible examples and online resources that instructors can engage with beyond the session. I also discuss ways to collect and include both objective and subjective data on their teaching as a tool for revising and updating courses. The most challenging part of the framework is identifying an accountability partner, so instructors will also leave with a resource to connect with other interested educators on courses and teaching topics relevant to them. This “success stool” framework is supported by an extensive literature on active learning and self-reflection practices.

Watch via our YouTube channel on Monday 26 June, starting at 3pm BST//10am EDT