Earlier this year AIER partnered with the Eastern Economic Association to survey the economics community. We examined the gaps in preparation of undergraduate students for graduate study in economics. This past weekend, I presented the survey results at the Southern Economics Association annual conference.
The results were not surprising, but they identify crucial areas for improvement. The most cited gaps in undergraduate economic education were:
- the ability to think critically and creatively;
- attaining a more intuitive understanding of economic concepts; and
- mathematical abilities, such as understanding the logic behind statistics, econometrics, and economic modeling.
Many respondents also noted that students have inadequate research and writing skills.
Based on these results, we suggest the following intensive courses as precursors to starting a graduate degree in economics:
- critical thinking, where we encourage students to digest economic articles and identify argumentative and rhetorical flaws in them;
- math boot camp, where we teach the intuition behind statistics, econometrics and economic modeling, basic math, and econometric skills;
- topic brainstorming, where we introduce how to read academic articles, as well as how to think about what types of topics are relevant, significant, and timely; and
- how to write a good research paper, where we cover skills like syntax and structure, as well as research design, the research question, and data collection and analysis.
AIER intends to apply these findings to its Summer Fellowship and internship programs. For both programs, we will evaluate our efforts at the debriefing of the summer. We invite people and programs that work with undergraduate economics students to apply these results.
We would also like you to brainstorm with us: what else are economics students missing? And how can we fill in those gaps in education?