- the Business Economics major in the Eller College of Management;
- the Economics major in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences;
- the Economics minor;
- Other undergraduate majors in the Eller College of Management; and
- the university’s General Education program (Economics 200 only).
To create a manageable framework for assessment, the Economics Department focuses on the six broad learning goals for Eller’s undergraduate major, goals which cut across all departments of the Eller College. The College has adopted subgoals under each broad goal, and the Economics Department has modified some of those subgoals, reflecting the particular needs of its major.
The goals and subgoals for the Economics core courses are:
Identify a problem and the information needed to develop alternative solutions.
Evaluate alternative solutions to a problem, using an appropriate analytical framework, and recommend an optimal solution.
Use theoretical models to predict the behavior of individuals, firms, and economic systems.
Articulate both sides of an argument, evaluate the quality of arguments, and evidence, and construct and defend the position taken.
Use statistical data analysis to answer empirical questions, using appropriate software.
Explain the relationships among business, government, and markets.
Explain the determination of prices in a market economy.
Apply profit-maximizing principles to common business decisions.
Explain the determinants of international trade and the workings of international markets.
Describe how alternative courses of action affect various individuals and social groups.
Describe, evaluate, and apply criteria for weighing competing interests, for the purpose of making policy decisions.
Compare and evaluate the arguments supporting various government policies.
Write appropriately for a given audience with conciseness and clarity.
Utilize data in written and oral presentations.
Provide and receive feedback, ideas, and instruction in a professional manner.
Organize tasks and delegate responsibility to complete collaborative projects in a timely manner.
Explain the impact of each team member (including oneself) on the collaborative project and the role each member plays.
Make appropriate and effective use of information technology for research.
The Business Knowledge (*) subgoal encompasses two topics for which the undergraduate majors in the Eller College of Management, other than the Business Economics major, explicitly rely on Economics courses. It relies on: 300 to explain “the relationships among business, government, and markets, including international markets;” 330 to create “an awareness of global trends and the impact on businesses.”
Assessment process for individual courses
The Economics Department assesses student mastery of the six broad goals mainly through assessments within the core courses: Economics 200, 300, 330, 332, 361, 407, 453, and 479. (All are 3-credit courses, except for Economics 479, which is a 1-credit writing course.) The department’s Learning Outcomes Table summarizes the goals and subgoals for which each course is responsible, the course requirements for each of the four degrees, and the assessment instruments used in each course.
The in-course assessments comprise mostly pre-selected exam questions but also papers and projects. All results are reported on a general four-point scale:
4.0 Exceeds expectations
3.0 Meets expectations
2.0 Partial achievement of the learning goal
1.0 Does not meet the learning goal
The instructors of the eight courses have developed assessment instruments and rubrics for applying these standards to the goals assigned to that course, in the context of that course. These instruments have evolved over the past several years, because the instructors for most of the courses have changed. The results for each course are part of an annual Learning Outcomes Assessment for that course.
For objective (true/false or multiple choice) exam questions, the department uses the following rubric:
Share of students who answer the question correctly Assessment score
85% 4.0 Exceeds expectations
70% 3.0 Meets expectations
55% 2.0 Partial achievement
40% 1.0 Does not meet the goal
To assess collaboration, the department uses a common collaboration rubric, across all courses. It is based, in part, on the National Teamwork Rubric for Peer-to-Peer Assessment.
The department has adopted an academic year assessment cycle for its undergraduate major: it assesses the program during each Fall semester, based on the results of the previous academic year. The review is conducted by an assessment committee comprising the department chair, the department’s undergraduate director, the department’s assessment coordinator, and any other person appointed by the department chair. This report and linked appendices are the results of that review and are made available to the Economics faculty on UA’s assessment website. The assessment committee will typically also recommend to the faculty changes in the undergraduate program, based on the overall assessment findings. The faculty discusses the findings and recommendations at a spring meeting and may make changes in the program accordingly.
The learning assessment for each of the eight core courses is described in a year-end Learning Outcomes report. Most of the following sections appear in each report:the programmatic learning goals and subgoals for which that course is responsible;
- the basic structure and pedagogical methods of the course;
- the assessment instruments for that course;
- the results of those assessments for academic year 2012-13, including in some cases a comparison to prior years;
- any comments by the instructor(s) on the assessment;
- additional course-specific learning outcomes, beyond the department-wide assessment.
The Learning Outcomes reports, for academic year 2015-16, are linked here:
|200:||Basic Economic Issues (Economic Principles)||4,134||4%||19%|
|300:||Microeconomic Analysis for Business Decisions||886||-6%||NC|
|330:||Macroeconomic and Global Institutions and Policy||893||12%||7%|
|407:||Economics of Strategy||97||-3%||7%|
|453:||Quantitative Methods for Economic Strategy||112||-22%||15%|
|479:||Communications in Economics||386||NC||-5%|
("NC" indicates a change of less than 3%. Note that only the Eller major, not the SBS major, requires Economics 407 and 453. There is a delay in the report of Economics 453 due to a delay in reporting some of the data for Spring 2016.)
Enrollment in the core courses is related to the number of students who choose an economics major, but the enrollment in Economics 332 and above considerably exceeds what can be explained by the number of majors who graduate:
in AY 2015-16
|School of Social and Behavioral Sciences||242||39%||74%|
For the enrollment calculations, an academic year begins with the summer term and ends with the spring term.
In addition to Learning Outcome Reports for individual courses, the department began in 2013 a program of detailed department-level reviews of two core courses per year. These intensive reviews, by temporary committees constructed for this purpose, consider assessment results for the previous few years, classroom visits, review of syllabi and examinations, interviews with the instructors, data from the standard university course evaluations, and other data as determined appropriate by the ad hoc review committee. The 2013 reports appear here: Economics 200; Economics 361. (The program was paused in 2014 due to changes in the personnel teaching courses.) In 2016-17 the department will repeat this process for Economics 332 and 479.
The department’s Assessment Coordinator consolidates the findings of all ten reports into an annual Summary of Assessment. The following table presents a very brief summary: the numerical assessment of each course for each broad goal for which that course is responsible, and the average score across all assessed courses. These scores reflect only the assessment results for academic year 2015-16.
The table also reports, in the last column, students' overall assessments of the Economics major, according to each learning goal. These data were collected in Spring 2016 from graduating economics majors, through this year's exit survey. They reflect answers to questions such as: "How well did the Economics Major develop your ability to engage in effective Collaboration?"
|Learning Goal||Average||200||300||330||332||361||407||453||479||Exit Survey|
|Overall quality of courses||3.2|
|Overall quality of instruction||3.2|
|Preparation for life after graduation||3.1|
|Overall satisfaction with the major||3.2|
Performance on the 15 unchanged Economics 200 assessment questions can be be meaningfully compared across years. In 2015-16 students did better on the 15 "old" questions than on the 15 new questions, but even the performance on the old questions has declined slightly, compared to three years earlier.
The accumulated data for the Economics 200 pre-test and post-test, for each broad learning goal since academic year 2011-12, are maintained in a spreadsheet that allows the tracking of trends over time. Performance is computed for nine different learning goals, the three broad goals assigned to Economics 200 as part of this programmatic assessment and six separate course-specific goals concerning economics content: basic concepts and definitions; firm theory, microeconomic policy; stabilization policy; and monetary policy and inflation.
Changes in Courses
Following earlier changes in the syllabus of Economics 200, the assessment questions for Economics 200 were revised for Fall, 2015: 10 questions were eliminated and 15 questions were added. This was the second time, in the past five years, that the question battery has been revised. All of the questions that have been used through this period, including the years in which they were added to or deleted from the battery, are compiled here. As previously noted, new and highly rated instructors have been hired to teach this course.
One instructor of Economics 200, Steve Reff, won the university-wide five-star teaching award.
Previous assessment results raised questions about the efficacy of Economics 361, leading to a change in the instructor and the structure of the course. Student responses indicate continuing concern about the course and its difficulty, which is still going through revisions.
The assessment process revealed weaknesses in the course following changes in the instructor. The previous successful instructor was brought back to the course for 2015-16.
Economics 300, 330, 332
All of these courses have had changes in the instructor and significant changes in content and instructional methods. The department will review the success of the courses as data accumulate.
The content for Economics 300 has been brought into closer alignment with the content of Economics 361, with which it substitutes.
The long-time instructor of this course made major changes in the course structure in 2015-16, partly in response to assessment results but substantially in response to resource constraints.
Changes in the Assessment Process, recent and prospective
The faculty was queried and expressed satisfaction with the current and longstanding statement of the undergraduate program's learning goals.
The exit survey is an important and evolving document, as is the process for collecting responses. In past years the exit survey occurred through the degree check process, but changes in that process forced the survey to become an online voluntary process. This has greatly reduced the response rate, and so it is important to find a way to bring the response rate back up..
The new assessment process through the Student Council of Economics Majors is evolving.
Much work has gone into the method of assessing Collaboration, which at present applies to two courses. Assessment of the current method of assessment, described here, awaits the accumulation of experience and data.
The Economics 200 assessment questions were revised, as described above. The instructors of the courses have, for now, opted not to rotate the assessment questions.
Instructors will be encouraged to take advantage of the university's service of observing and videotaping lectures and receiving constructive comments on possible improvements.
Greater emphasis will be placed on updating this assessment page annually.