Teaching

For a Summary of My Teaching Evaluations: Click Here

For my Teaching Evaluations for Econ 21020: Econometrics: Click Here

For my Teaching Evaluations for Econ 20200: Elements of Economic Analysis III (Macro): Click Here

For my Teaching Evaluations for Econ 21010: Statistical Methods in Economics: Click Here

For my Teaching Evaluations from Duke University: Click Here


Philosophy of Teaching

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As an instructor of both calculus-based intermediate macroeconomics and econometrics, I find that teaching should focus on the following sets of criteria. At the most fundamental level, I want my students to come out of my courses with the competency to succeed in future courses or educational endeavors. In addition, I want my students to be competent and comfortable with utilizing data and economic principles to evaluate claims made by policy makers and experts. I want them to also utilize those same skills to ask and answer relevant questions about the professional or academic worlds in which they eventually find themselves. Finally, through my classes I create an inclusive environment where students are constantly being challenged yet feel free to collaborate and ask questions.

With regards to setting up my students for future success I focus primarily on helping them build a conceptual and theoretical framework from which to approach more complicated topics. For example, in my course titled Statistical Methods in Economics, the goal is to give students the requisite scaffolding to be successful in Econometrics. I focus on building a strong foundation in probability theory and utilize that to motivate the statistics part of the course. In doing so I introduce students not to just intuitive sample means and sample variance but to the notion of these as statistical estimators of the underlying population parameters. I have found that students return after the course to comment on how much that prepared them for the econometrics curriculum, and they felt they were ahead of the curve with regards to their peers. In my intermediate macroeconomics course my focus is on utilizing their microeconomic foundations to build general equilibrium models to evaluate policy in the next course in the sequence. I utilize the framework to look at the effects of money, financial markets and policy issues such as social security. This gives students a small taste of how economists utilize these models to ask questions and their ability to eventually use these foundations is reflected in my evaluations.

My drive to help students feel familiarity and confidence with the material as well as their ability to engage in evaluation of statements by experts and policy makers is well represented by both my intermediate macroeconomics curriculum and my econometrics courses. My problem sets and examinations are focused on open ended free response questions that test their deeper understanding of the models. In my econometrics course, for example, I spend a considerable time asking students to both analyze statements made about empirical results and utilize the course to teach basic causal inference to the students. It is important to me that students understand both the limitations and the power of our empirical methods but only if the statistical inference is well designed. Questions I often ask students towards this end are questions concerning statements concerning joint significance and whether a causal linkage can be suggested by the design of the regression. In doing so I encourage students to think critically about statistical statements made in the popular media as well as by experts. In addition, questions on exams focus on asking students to themselves design regressions in order to tease out the measured effect of specific independent variables or to control for simultaneous equation issues. Students tend to appreciate this focus as it allows them to more actively engage in serious discussions and potential research. One student on an evaluation pointed this out saying the course helped them to “adequately solve real world problems, how to understand findings from major research papers, honestly THE MOST useful class I have taken at this University”.

It is imperative to me that they do not also take these courses in isolation and students can see an impactful use of the skills they are acquiring in their future endeavors. With regards to econometrics, this means not just drawing from examples that are relevant to my research interests but from fields across economics. Exam and problem set questions utilize a variety of different research as inspiration, which I cultivate through conversations with my colleagues. I have asked questions with regards to development economics, marriage and dating markets, labor economics, and college choice to name a few. My goal is to let students see the variety of applications for even basic econometrics and to engage each individual student’s potential career interest. I find this makes students more engaged and more excited about tackling a usually difficult course. With regards to our macroeconomics courses, I tend to utilize the last part of the course --- once the main intuition of dynamic models has been established--- to start showing a variety of applications that we as macroeconomists study. This includes but is not limited to, asset pricing and financial markets, macroeconomic labor markets, and the notion of intergenerational inefficiencies. Though the course is obviously focused on macroeconomics I make sure to stress that the course is also more about learning how to build and work with dynamic models, which is not restricted to macroeconomic courses of study. Finally, in my statistics and probability course, I try to impress upon my students the nature of statistical inference in mundane of things as things such as steroid testing, and even demographic estimation.

Finally, of all the things I pride myself on, it’s making sure all students feel they have a safe place to both learn and make mistakes. This means being inclusive not only to student interests but also to different student learning styles. I make myself available to my students as often as possible and make sure they know that there is no shame in making mistakes. I find the rigor of my problem sets also helps this as students are forced to work together. This promotes a more collegial environment within my course rather than a competitive atmosphere. I also make sure my students recognize that with regards to my final grade distribution they are only competing with themselves to demonstrate mastery of the course. I also make sure that all my students can see themselves as applied researchers and that more economics is truly a discipline that requires effort to be successful, rather than some sort of natural ability. To this end, I utilize as many real-world examples and questions from a variety of researchers both male and female and from different national backgrounds.

Also, I still recognize I have much to learn about pedagogy and I’m always seeking to improve my own personal style. This includes efforts to observe other successful colleagues and engaging as much as I can with the Economics Education research. I am an annual participant at the Conference for Teaching and Research in Economic Education (CTREE) and have found a great many ideas that I am constantly trying to implement into my courses. In addition, I have recently coauthored a paper about the compositional changes in hiring patterns by economics departments. We focus on the increase specialization of the roles within specific economics departments and we hope to continue this research agenda looking at the structural changes taking place in US academic departments. In addition, I do my best to keep up with current research both for ideas for my exams and problem sets but also to make sure I’m bringing my students the most up to date information possible. I, as ever, continue to look forward to improving as an instructor and evolving my methods in a way to better challenge and inspire my students.