My primary teaching objective is to help students develop critical thinking skills
through active learning. My classes, especially upper division classes, are generally not
taught in a lecture format, but emphasize active learning through small group work, class
discussion, papers, and problem sets. I’ve found that students who are actively involved
in the learning process are more likely to share the passion that I have about economics.
They do this as they discover for themselves how economics gives insights into both
everyday decisions that people routinely make as well as the decisions of policy makers
about poverty, unemployment, pollution inflation, and other major social problems. 

Economics students develop a set of useful proficiencies as they advance from lower level
economics courses through senior level courses when they are actively involved in the
learning process. These skills consist of the basic proficiencies of accessing existing
knowledge, displaying a command of existing knowledge, and interpreting existing
knowledge, as well as more advanced proficiencies of working with economic data, applying
existing knowledge and creating new knowledge. 

While the lower division courses that I teach, such as Gateway Colloquium and Survey of
Economics, emphasize the more basic proficiencies, my upper division courses help
students achieve higher level proficiencies. For example, the capstone senior seminar
course (ECON 401) requires that each student produce an original research project. I find
that students who are actively engaged in original research develop skills in applying
existing knowledge to topics that they are interested in and, in the end, creating new
knowledge. One of the most satisfying parts of teaching is to help students through this
process of acquiring proficiencies through research. My thinking on this process is
spelled out in a recent paper titled “Achieving Proficiencies in Economics Capstone
Courses” in the Journal of College Teaching and Learning. 

I also believe that co-curricular activities can be designed to encourage active
learning. For example, the Department of Economics sponsors two unique student edited
undergraduate journals (The Park Place Economist and the Undergraduate Economic Review).
Both student authors and student editors benefit from the process of publishing original
undergraduate research. We also encourage economics students to present their research at
conferences such as the John Wesley Powell Research Conference, the Annual Meetings of
the Midwest Economics Association and the Carroll Round Conference at Georgetown
University. In short, active learning is important, and it does not stop in the
classroom. 

Articles

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The Effect of Place of Origin on the Relative Earnings of Immigrant Women (with Mahi Garg), International Business & Economics Research Journal (2010)

This paper explores the earnings differentials between female immigrants from 14 places of origin when...

 

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Inferring Drug Use from Productivity Trends in Track and Field (with Allison Fisher), Atlantic Economic Journal (2010)
 

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Achieving Proficiencies in Economics Capstone Courses, Journal of College Teaching & Learning (2008)

This paper argues that capstone courses in economics should be integrative experiences that require students...

 

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The Effect of Marital Status on the Standard of Living of Young Men and Women, Journal of Business & Economics Research (2004)

The National Longitudinal Survey of Youth data base is used to explore the effects of...

 

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The Assimilation of Immigrants Who Arrived in the United States as Children (with Jeremy Sandford), Journal of Business and Economics Research (2003)

Although there has been much research on the effects of national origin, English speaking ability...