Academic journal article American Economist

Teacher Training and Market Attitudes in Transitioning Economies

Academic journal article American Economist

Teacher Training and Market Attitudes in Transitioning Economies

Article excerpt

I. Introduction

The National Council on Economic Education (NCEE) has a long history of promoting economic education in the United States and has recently expanded operations overseas with the Cooperative Education Exchange Program (CEEP). In this program, secondary school teachers from Russia, Central Asia, and Central and Eastern Europe complete a Training of Trainers workshop: four six-day seminars covering basic economics, microeconomics, macroeconomics and international economics. Participants are trained by university faculty members from the United States to become trainers themselves. While the primary goal is to train instructors to teach market-based economics, one of the implicit objectives of economic education programs in transitioning economies is to impart an understanding of how markets work in order to make the conversion to a market economy more acceptable (Walstad and Rebeck, 2002). In an effort to assess this objective, teachers participating in training workshops complete a survey entitled the Attitudes Toward the Market (ATM) (Breeden and Lephardt, 2002). Using the ATM, demographic information and a test of economics knowledge, we investigate whether participating in teacher training programs in the Training of Trainers workshops changes the attitudes of participants regarding market economies, and which characteristics are responsible for any changes in attitudes.

Several studies compare attitudes about markets between groups from the U.S. and transitioning economies (e.g., Lopus, 1996; Watts, Walstad and Skiba, 2002). Walstad (2002) examines how teacher training influences the attitudes of the teachers' students in transitioning economies. However, little research exists on the effects of training on changing attitudes of the teachers themselves. To our knowledge, the only research to date on changing teacher attitudes are program reports on CEEP, formerly known as the International Economic Education Exchange Program (IEEEP) (EDC, 1996; EDC, 1997) and an evaluation of the IEEEP in Kazakhstan for the NCEE (Grimes and Millea, 2001). All of these studies find that teachers who attended IEEEP seminars and improved their economics knowledge showed greater support for market economies. This study builds on earlier research by examining teacher attitudes toward free markets while controlling for individual characteristics and allowing for the interaction between teacher attitudes and knowledge.

To determine the effects of training on market attitudes, we develop a system of simultaneous equations and estimate the system using two-stage methods, which are described in Section II. We first estimate a single-equation probit model to understand determinants of pro-market attitudes before teacher training. Following training, we estimate the simultaneous equations model allowing for the interaction between pro-market attitudes and knowledge. We use a two-stage estimation procedure that is similar to two-stage least squares, except that the attitude variable is binary while the knowledge variable is continuous. A t-test indicates that pro-market attitudes do increase following the training. (1) We use the model to understand which factors are likely to lead to a change in attitudes as a result of training.

II. Data and Methodology

Data on attitudes of secondary school teachers in transition economies are from the CEEP Database collected by ORC Macro (2002) and implemented through the NCEE. During the 2002-2003 academic year, 106 participants completed the Training of Trainers program. Data are not random and are unlikely to be representative of the teacher population in the nations represented--teachers in transitioning economies with more positive attitudes toward the market might select themselves into an economic education training program sponsored by a U.S. agency. However, even given this qualification, analysis of the CEEP data can still provide valuable insight into the efficacy of economics education in transitioning economies. …

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