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One Bad review on RateMyProfessor.com

January 30th, 2008 No comments

To the one person who gave me a not-so great review on ratemyprofessors.com.

All of the other instructors I have talked to have told me not to obsess about student ratings, but I view my class as my product like a small business owner views his product, and you are the customer. I care about customer experience and satisfaction, so I obsess a little about reviews, and, short of inflating grades, take poor ones as constructive criticism and try to do better in the future.

I am sorry you had a bad experience in my class. Economics is a very tough subject, and it was always my intention to try to make my class engaging and relevant (hence, tangents). You have to work hard at economics, and most students don’t realize how tough the subject is, and consequently don’t study enough for tests. I tried to combat this problem, assigning problem sets filled with discussion problems, [i]making[/i] you think about economics and use economics to look at the world around you. It apparently worked, because the class did very well on the “standardized” questions on the final exam.

I didn’t say I wanted to teach Macroeconomics; I said that economists have improperly bifurcated economics between macro and micro, confusing in both subjects, especially among young students (but among professors to). I said this in the introduction to the lecture on the one-person economy over time, normally not taught until Macro (or worse, Macro II).

It is my continued belief that it is better to introduce “trade-offs between time periods” [i]before[/i] talking about two person trade. It is easiest to understand two-person trade if you already understand inter-time trade, and it is harder to understand inter-time trade once two-person trade has been explained to you. More importantly, the inter-time trade model makes the more complicated micro models much less abstract, because you are aware of the issues we are now assuming away. It gives you less of the feeling that these models, especially those of the firm, are completely devoid of any real-world application, motivating the student to learn the models (or at least not de-motivating them), making them easier to understand.

I’m not the only one who thinks this – I chose the textbook I used in class, Economics for Real People, because Callahan organizes that book in the same way. (And you thought I did it just because the book was free.)

I am sorry about my handwriting. The more times I teach the class, the better my typed overhead notes will get and the less I will write on the board. I also don’t like white boards: I grew up on chalk, and I think it is much easier to write with. That’s not an excuse, just an explanation.

I stand by the course. The class did very well on the standardized questions the department put on my final. I hope the course prepared you for other economics courses you may need to take. I didn’t cover all of the topics normally “breezed over” in Micro, and I added some things that I thought would interest you. If you didn’t like that, I am sorry. I would offer you your money back if the University would let me, but if you take more economics courses, I hope you feel differently about mine (you might not – they will probably be easier than mine was because you took my class).

Note, this post is back-dated since the original forum is not available on-line. I significantly edited my remarks before posting them here.

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