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Economics

College or Campus: College of Arts and Sciences

Student Learning Outcomes

UNDERGRADUATE

Mission Statement : Through the teaching of microeconomics, macroeconomics and econometrics, the undergraduate Economics programs help students to establish in-depth understanding of the functioning of domestic and global economies and to develop the necessary and portable skills to perform economic analysis for both public and private sector positions as well as for graduate studies in related fields.

Learning Outcomes

The Department of Economics has established the following learning outcomes for its undergraduate programs - BA4221 and BS4225:

Economics Knowledge:

  1. Students will learn how markets organize core economic activities, such as production, distribution, and consumption, and the growth of productive resources.
  2. Students will learn about the determinants of macroeconomic conditions (national output, employment, and inflation), causes of business cycles, and interactions of monetary and fiscal policy.
  3. Students will learn to apply economic theories and methodologies in analyzing economic issues in various sub-fields of applied microeconomics and international economics.

Analytical Skills in Economics:

  1. Analytical and economic reasoning skills: deduce reasonable predictions about possible economic outcomes based upon economic conditions and economic theories.
  2. Quantitative analytical skills: collect and analyze data to support economic decision making using statistical and econometric techniques.
  3. Critical thinking skills: evaluate and critique alternative economic policies.
  4. Self development skills: learn new theories about economic activities, create explanations for new economic phenomena and device innovative approaches to solve various economic problems.

GRADUATE

Economics M.A.

The primary mission of the Master of Arts in Economics (MAE) program is to educate students as applied economists. The MAE program emphasizes practical applications of economic theory. It is organized to provide students with analytical tools by which they can use to solve many economic problems existing in the real world. The program provides students with practical econometric skills that are widely used in both private and public sectors.

The MAE program defines its learning objectives in four key areas: critical thinking, quantitative reasoning sills, problem-solving skills, and communication skills. Graduates of the MAE program will be able to:

I. Critical thinking

1. Apply economic theory to analyze everyday problems and evaluate

2. Apply economic analysis to evaluate specific policy proposals

II. Quantitative reasoning skills

3. Understand how to use empirical evidence to evaluate an economic argument

4. Perform appropriate statistical analysis of data

5. Interpret statistical results

6. Develop deeper quantitative skills

III. Problem-solving skills

7. Analyze problems that have clear solutions

8. Propose solutions for problems that do not have clear answers

IV. Communication skills

9. Develop a well-organized written argument that states a hypothesis

10. Communicate effectively in written or spoken form about specific economic issues

Assessment Plan

UNDERGRADUATE

The Department of Economics will use both direct and indirect measures of student learning.

Direct Measures:

  1. Capstone projects from Econ4850. The projects are directly related to learning outcomes in Analytical Skills in Economics. The assessment committee will review finished sample projects from the capstone course using the assessment rubrics in the appendix.
  2. Scores from the REVISED Test of Understanding in College Economics (TUCE). TUCE is an assessment tool created by the National Council for Economic Education. The test is a standardized test of economics nationally norm-referenced in the United States. The test is a direct measure of learning outcomes in both Economics Knowledge and Analytical Skills in Economics.

Indirect Measures:

  1. Faculty consensus/feedbacks on program improvement through undergraduate committee and assessment committee meetings.
  2. Survey and interviews from outgoing cohort students on the learning outcomes and possible program improvements in achieving them.
  3. Follow-up survey to recent graduates on program learning outcome achievements and improvements.

Implementation and Utilization:

Direct Measures:

  1. The three-year cycle: The assessment committee have successfully implemented the direct measure 2, the revised TUCE tests in the 2016-2017 academic year and the direct measure 1 in the 2017-2018 academic year. We then will skip one year so that faculty can adjust their teaching practices according to improvement suggestions based on the assessment results. This means the direct measures are implemented on a three year cycle.

Indirect Measure:

  1. Faculty meetings for the undergraduate committee and the assessment committee should be held every academic year to review and discuss the newest assessment results and possible improvements.
  2. Indirect Measures 2, and 3 can be implemented on a three-year cycle according to the following order: The out-going cohort survey and interviews (2) have been conducted at the end of 2016-2017 academic year and we will conduct the follow-up survey to recent graduate (3) in 2018-2019 academic year.

Utilization:

Because relative shortcomings in the students learning outcomes can be directly revealed by our direct and indirect measures, faculty meetings will focus on identifying the possible causes of and formalizing remedies for the shortcomings found. The assessment committee and the undergraduate committee will work together via round table discussions to review the assessment results from various measures and come to a consensus on possible improvements. Both changes in teaching practices and curriculum modification will be considered based on the findings. Seminars or round table discussions on teaching methodology will be held so that faculty members can share their experiences on best practices to improve student learning outcomes. Curriculum changes are subject to approval by the departmental committees and university committees.

Appendix: Rubrics for Assessment of Learning Outcomes

 

Level

Score

Criteria

Economic Knowledge

 

Excellent

3

  • Demonstrates in-depth understanding of the key economic factors in the economic issues under study with clearly explained details that are particular to the situation.
  • Appropriately applies theories and methodologies in analyzing the economic issues under study with adjustments in assumptions that reflecting the particular situation.

 

Acceptable

2

  • Correctly identifies the various driving forces or factors in the economic issues under study.
  • Utilizes the correct or most relevant economic theories or methodologies in economic analyses.

 

Weak

1

  • Most economic forces or factors are identified correctly, but minor misunderstandings exist on some of the concepts.
  • The basic analyses of the economic issue are plausible with some minor mistakes in reasoning or minor errors in conclusions.

 

Deficient

0

  • Exhibits major misunderstanding of key economic factors or forces in the economic issue under study.
  • Key conclusions are incorrect due to misuse of economic theories, erroneous reasoning or both.

Analytical Skills

 

Excellent

3

  • Demonstrates logical, coherent and clear economic reasoning in analyzing economic phenomena and predicting possible economic outcomes.
  • Clearly distinguishes: assumptions vs. conclusions, normative vs. positive statements, causes vs. consequences.
  • Provides logical, coherent and clear economic reasoning when debating alternative explanations for an economic issue under study.
  • Creates clearly labeled illustrations of diagrams which effectively facilitate the analysis of economic problems.

 

Acceptable

2

  • Provides plausible explanations to an economic issue using some logical reasoning with some degree of coherence and clarity.
  • In formulating an economic argument, can largely distinguish: assumptions vs. conclusions, normative vs. positive statements, causes vs. consequences.
  • Provides reasonably plausible arguments when debating alternative explanations for an economic issue under study.
  • Creates some illustrations or diagrams that are helpful to communicate the analysis of economic problems.

 

Weak

1

  • Provides some explanations to an economic issue with weak logical reasoning and low degrees of coherence and clarity.
  • In formulating an economic argument, occasionally mixes up: assumptions vs. conclusions, normative vs. positive statements, causes vs. consequences.
  • Dismisses alternative explanations for an economic issue under study without clear analyses or reasoning.
  • The provided illustrations or diagrams are not clearly labeled, only loosely connected to the analysis performed or with insufficient explanations.

 

Deficient

0

  • Lacks logical reasoning in explaining or analyzing an economic issue under study.
  • In formulating an economic argument, constantly mixes up: assumptions vs. conclusions, normative vs. positive statements, causes vs. consequences.
  • Dismisses alternative explanations for an economic issue under study with illogical argument or based on misunderstandings.
  • The provided illustrations or diagrams are labeled wrong, unrelated or unhelpful to the analysis performed or without necessary explanations.

 

Quantitative Analytical Skills

 

Excellent

3

  • Collects sufficient and relevant data that can provide insight in the economic issues under study and generate meaningful statistical conclusions.
  • When analyzing collected data, correctly chooses the relevant statistics and econometric models, with necessary modifications.
  • Accurately interprets the statistical results from the quantitative analysis.

 

Acceptable

2

  • Data Collected are relevant for the analysis of the economic issues under study and has potential to provide some statistical insights.
  • Provides the relevant statistics and apply econometric models that are commonly used in analyzing the economic issues under study.
  • Correctly interprets most of the statistical results from the quantitative analyses performed.

 

Weak

1

  • Data collected are loosely related to the analysis of the economic issues under study and have limited potential to provide statistical insights.
  • The statistics provided and the econometric models applied has weak relationships to the economic issues under study.
  • Interpretations of the statistical results are exaggerated or contain minor mistakes.

 

Deficient

0

  • Data Collected are unrelated to the analysis of the economic issues under study and cannot provide statistical insights.
  • The statistics provided and the econometric models applied are not suitable to analyzing the economic issues under study.
  • Interpretations of the statistical results are incorrect.

 

Critical Thinking Skills

 

Excellent

3

  • Clearly distinguishes various alternative or related explanations of the economic issue under study with a detailed comparison of their differences and similarities.
  • Accurately describes the advantages and shortcomings of alternative or related explanations of the economic issue under study.
  • Clearly explains the potential flaws in one’s own arguments or explanations for the economic issue under study.

 

Acceptable

2

  • Compares alternative or related explanations of the economic issue under study with some clarity.
  • Offers reasonably clear descriptions for the advantages and shortcomings of alternative or related explanations of the economic issue under study.
  • Explains limitations in one’s own arguments or explanations for the economic issue under study with some clarity.

 

Weak

1

  • Compares alternative or related explanations of the economic issue under study without clarity.
  • Offers vague descriptions for the advantages and shortcomings of alternative or related explanations of the economic issue under study.
  • Vaguely explains or fails to realize minor limitations in one’s own arguments or explanations for the economic issue under study.

 

Deficient

0

  • Fails to distinguish alternative or related explanations of the economic issue under study.
  • Fails to recognize the advantages and shortcomings of alternative or related explanations of the economic issue under study.
  • Fails to recognize the major limitations in one’s own arguments or explanations for the economic issue under study.

Self-development Skills

 

Excellent

3

  • The expositions of concepts or theories not taught in the Economics curriculum are clear, precise and intuitive.
  • Formulates new concepts, measures or theories in explaining new economic phenomenon, which can facilitate logical understanding and analyses.
  • Correctly invents new methodology or modifies existing methodology in analyzing new or unique economic phenomenon.

 

Acceptable

2

  • The expositions of concepts or theories not taught in the Economics curriculum are reasonably clear.
  • Formulates new concepts, measures or theories in explaining new economic phenomenon, providing some insights into it.
  • Attempts to invent new methodology or modify existing methodology in analyzing new or unique economic phenomenon.

 

Weak

1

  • The expositions of concepts or theories not taught in the Economics curriculum are reasonably understandable but not very clear.
  • Newly formulated concepts, measures or theories are not very well defined or explained or can only provide limited insights.
  • Makes limited attempts to modify existing methodology in analyzing new or unique economic phenomenon.

 

Deficient

0

  • The expositions of concepts or theories not taught in the Economics curriculum are not explained clearly.
  • Formulates no new concepts, measures or theories in explaining apparently unique new economic phenomenon where existing economic tools are not suitable to explain.
  • Makes no attempts to modify existing methodology in analyzing new or unique economic phenomenon, which leads to erroneous predictions.

GRADUATE

Economics M.A.

I. Direct Assessment: Econ 6041 Research Project and MAE Paper Assessment Rubric

1) As a tool for direct assessment of learning outcomes 1, 3-6 and 9-10 (see Student Learning Outcomes document), we use an assessment rubric of the research project in a required course of the program, Advanced Macroeconomics II (Econ 6041). All students finished such a project in Spring 2019. Table 1 shows the assessment rubric. The project consisted of producing a poster with a research idea and present it in the OU Student Expo in April 2019. Students have to propose a testable hypothesis, usually based on economic theory, and use advanced econometric techniques learnt in class (mainly dynamic panel data models with instrumental variables: two-way fixed effects, Arellano-Bond, or Blundell-Bond estimators) to test such a hypothesis. The poster usually contains the following sections: an introduction (background, motivation, and literature review), empirical model and data, main results and robustness checks, conclusions, and references list. First, students write a draft of the poster and make a mock presentation. These are evaluated by the instructor and commented by the student’s peers. The student presents the final version of the poster at the Student Expo. The seven learning outcomes mentioned above will be assessed yearly.

Table 1. Assessment Rubric of the Econ 6041 Research Project

Learning outcomes

1. Limited

2. Acceptable

3. Excellent

Critical thinking

 

 

 

Apply economic theory to evaluate everyday problems

Displays a basic understanding of economic problems but with severe difficulties.

Displays an adequate understanding of economic problems.

Displays a wide understanding of economic problems.

Apply economic analysis to evaluate specific policy proposals

Demonstrates a basic ability to evaluate the effects of economic policies with serious analytical weakness.

Demonstrates an adequate ability to evaluate the effects of economic policies.

Demonstrates a comprehensive ability to evaluate the effects of economic policies.

Quantitative reasoning skills

 

 

 

Understand how to use empirical evidence to evaluate an economic argument

Basic use of data, econometric tools, and economic theory but theory and evidence are unconnected. Relies on others to identify relevant data and methods.

Appropriate use of data jointly with econometric tools and economic theory. No serious inconsistencies. Identifies relevant data and adequate methods.

Proficient use of data jointly with econometric tools and economic theory. Identifies relevant data and sound methods.

Perform appropriate statistical analysis of data

Inappropriate use of econometric tools for estimation and/or hypothesis testing without acknowledging empirical limitations.

Adequate use of econometric tools for estimation and/or hypothesis testing. Empirical limitations that arise from standard application are acknowledged.

Proficient use of econometric tools for estimation and/or hypothesis testing. Deep empirical analysis. Empirical limitations that arise from standard applications are acknowledged.

Interpret statistical results

Lack of consistency between econometric estimates and inference and conclusions. No limitations or uncertainties are addressed.

Consistency between econometric estimates and inference and conclusions. No limitations or uncertainties are addressed.

Consistency between econometric estimates and inference and conclusions. Limitations and uncertainties are addressed.

Develop deeper quantitative skills

Lack of use of any advanced econometric tools in either estimation or inferential methods.

Appropriate use of advanced econometric tools in either estimation or inferential methods but not both.

Adequate use of advanced econometric tools in both estimation and inferential methods.

Communication skills

 

 

 

Develop a well-organized written argument that states a hypothesis

Argument or economic intuition are not properly addressed, and inadequate hypothesis formulation.

Coherent argument and adequate hypothesis formulation.

Compelling argument, addresses economic intuition, and adequate hypothesis formulation.

Communicate effectively in written or spoken form about specific economic issues

Writing or speaking is appropriate, organization can be weak, use of jargon is excessive.

Writing or speaking is appropriate, proper organization, technically correct but with use of jargon.

Concise, organized, and technically well-written or spoken. Coherent arguments accessible to different audiences.

2) In addition, we will carry out an evaluation of the program’s learning outcomes 1-10 through an assessment rubric of the MAE’s paper for the 2019-2020 academic year. Table 2 shows the assessment rubric. All the learning outcomes will be assessed annually from that year on.

Table 2. Assessment Rubric of the MAE Paper

Learning outcomes

1. Limited

2. Acceptable

3. Excellent

Critical thinking

 

 

 

Apply economic theory to evaluate everyday problems

Displays a basic understanding of economic problems but with some difficulties.

Displays an adequate understanding of economic problems.

Displays a wide understanding of economic problems.

Apply economic analysis to evaluate specific policy proposals

Demonstrates a basic ability to evaluate the effects of economic policies with some analytical weakness.

Demonstrates an adequate ability to evaluate the effects of economic policies.

Demonstrates a comprehensive ability to evaluate the effects of economic policies.

Quantitative reasoning skills

 

 

 

Understand how to use empirical evidence to evaluate an economic argument

Basic use of data, econometric tools, and economic theory but theory and evidence are unconnected. Relies on others to identify relevant data and methods.

Appropriate use of data jointly with econometric tools and economic theory. No serious inconsistencies. Identifies relevant data and adequate methods.

Proficient use of data jointly with econometric tools and economic theory. Identifies relevant data and sound methods.

Perform appropriate statistical analysis of data

Inappropriate use of econometric tools for estimation and/or hypothesis testing without acknowledging empirical limitations.

Adequate use of econometric tools for estimation and/or hypothesis testing. Empirical limitations that arise from standard application are acknowledged.

Proficient use of econometric tools for estimation and/or hypothesis testing. Deep empirical analysis. Empirical limitations that arise from standard applications are acknowledged.

Interpret statistical results

Lack of consistency between econometric estimates and inference and conclusions. No limitations or uncertainties are addressed.

Consistency between econometric estimates and inference and conclusions. No limitations or uncertainties are addressed.

Consistency between econometric estimates and inference and conclusions. Limitations and uncertainties are addressed.

Develop deeper quantitative skills

Lack of use of any advanced econometric tools in either estimation or inferential methods.

Appropriate use of advanced econometric tools in either estimation or inferential methods but not both.

Adequate use of advanced econometric tools in both estimation and inferential methods.

Problem-solving skills

 

 

 

Analyze problems that have clear solutions

Partial solutions to economic problems and exercises with evident flaws.

Complete and adequate solutions to economic problems and exercises.

Comprehensive solutions to economic problems and exercises.

Propose solutions for problems that do not have clear answers

Partial solutions to challenging problems loosely based on economic reasoning with major limitations.

Logical solutions to challenging problems based on economic reasoning with minor limitations.

Logical solutions to challenging problems based on economic reasoning.

Communication skills

 

 

 

Develop a well-organized written argument that states a hypothesis

Argument or economic intuition are not properly addressed, and inadequate hypothesis formulation.

Coherent argument and adequate hypothesis formulation.

Compelling argument, addresses economic intuition, and adequate hypothesis formulation.

Communicate effectively in written or spoken form about specific economic issues

Writing or speaking is appropriate, organization can be weak, use of jargon is excessive.

Writing or speaking is appropriate, proper organization, technically correct but with use of jargon.

Concise, organized, and technically well-written or spoken. Coherent arguments accessible to different audiences.

II. Indirect Assessment: MAE Program Exit Survey

As a tool for indirect assessment of learning outcomes 1-6, we also implemented the MAE program exit survey by the end of the academic year. The instructions and questions appear next. Note that not all the questions of the exit survey measure directly the learning outcomes. The most informative questions are 2, 4, and 5. Questions 7, 10, 12, and 13 may provide suggestive indirect evidence of learning outcomes.

Department of Economics MAE Program Exit Survey

Congratulations on completing your Master’s Degree in Economics. The faculty of the Department of Economics would appreciate a candid evaluation of your graduate experience at Ohio University by completing this survey. Our main purpose is to learn from you how we can improve the quality of education and training for our students as well as the overall graduate student experience. Your honest and thoughtful responses are essential to improving our program for graduate students in the future. Please reflect on those experiences that were positive, those that could be improved, and any possible additions to the program that you think would be beneficial.

Your responses are voluntary and you may skip any question. Responses will be provided to the Graduate Chair, without any personal identifiers so your anonymity will be maintained.

Coursework

1. At the orientation meeting, students were adequately informed of the overall program objectives, required courses, the methods of evaluation to be used, and the capstone course at the conclusion of the program.

1. Strongly Disagree       2. Disagree        3. Neutral           4. Agree              5. Strongly Agree            N/A

2. The professors in my classes utilized instructional methods that provided me with the opportunity to achieve the objectives of the program.

1. Strongly Disagree       2. Disagree        3. Neutral           4. Agree              5. Strongly Agree            N/A

3. The methods of instruction in my classes were appropriate for the level of the classes.

1. Strongly Disagree       2. Disagree        3. Neutral           4. Agree              5. Strongly Agree            N/A

4. The courses I took gave me a good grounding in the theories of economics.

1. Strongly Disagree       2. Disagree        3. Neutral           4. Agree              5. Strongly Agree            N/A

5. The courses I took gave me a good grounding in the applications of economics.

1. Strongly Disagree       2. Disagree        3. Neutral           4. Agree              5. Strongly Agree            N/A

6. The workloads and expectations in my courses were high enough to be appropriate for graduate credit.

1. Strongly Disagree       2. Disagree        3. Neutral           4. Agree              5. Strongly Agree            N/A

7. My professors provided clear and helpful feedback on my assignment/exams/presentation in a timely fashion.

1. Strongly Disagree       2. Disagree        3. Neutral           4. Agree              5. Strongly Agree            N/A

8. My professors were willing to meet with me outside classroom to answer my questions/concerns.

1. Strongly Disagree       2. Disagree        3. Neutral           4. Agree              5. Strongly Agree            N/A

9. My graduate courses challenged me to analyze, explore, and question the knowledge and skills I learned in the program.

1. Strongly Disagree       2. Disagree        3. Neutral           4. Agree              5. Strongly Agree            N/A

Advising/Research Project

10. I had sufficient access to and time with my master’s paper/thesis advisors to successfully complete my research work.

1. Strongly Disagree       2. Disagree        3. Neutral           4. Agree              5. Strongly Agree            N/A

11. My master’s paper/thesis advisors provided me with clear guidance and good mentoring in the completion of my research work.

1. Strongly Disagree       2. Disagree        3. Neutral           4. Agree              5. Strongly Agree            N/A

12. I found my thesis research project to be intellectually challenging.

1. Strongly Disagree       2. Disagree        3. Neutral           4. Agree              5. Strongly Agree            N/A

13. My research project was a good learning opportunity that facilitated the acquisition of useful skills that will aid me in a career in economics.

1. Strongly Disagree       2. Disagree        3. Neutral           4. Agree              5. Strongly Agree            N/A

Overall Experience

14. The department fostered a supportive environment for learning and research and encouraged scholarly interaction and accessibility among faculty and students.

1. Strongly Disagree       2. Disagree        3. Neutral           4. Agree              5. Strongly Agree            N/A

15. I am well prepared for employment in economics.

1. Strongly Disagree       2. Disagree        3. Neutral           4. Agree              5. Strongly Agree            N/A

16. I believe I am well prepared to continue my education at a higher level.

1. Strongly Disagree       2. Disagree        3. Neutral           4. Agree              5. Strongly Agree            N/A

17. In general, my overall economic educational experience has been worthwhile.

1. Strongly Disagree       2. Disagree        3. Neutral           4. Agree              5. Strongly Agree            N/A

18. I found the economic graduate program to be challenging.

1. Strongly Disagree       2. Disagree        3. Neutral           4. Agree              5. Strongly Agree            N/A

19. I would recommend Ohio University as a place for economic graduate education.

1. Strongly Disagree       2. Disagree        3. Neutral           4. Agree              5. Strongly Agree            N/A

Open Questions

20. What are the strengths of the Department of Economics graduate program?

21. What are, if any, areas in need of improvement in the Department of Economics graduate program?

22. What additional courses, experiences, or opportunities would you like to have seen in the Department of Economics graduate program?

Evidence of Student Learning

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