Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

Attitudes of Economic Educators toward Markets in Eastern Europe & the Former Soviet Union by Reform Status of the Educator's Country

Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

Attitudes of Economic Educators toward Markets in Eastern Europe & the Former Soviet Union by Reform Status of the Educator's Country

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

From 1995 through 2006, the Council for Economic Education (CEE) in New York, through its Cooperative Education Exchange Program (CEEP), conducted a series of economics seminars for educators from Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union (EEFSU). The Cooperative Education Exchange Program (CEEP) is a program is funded by the U.S. Department of Education and is conducted in coordination with the U.S. Department of State. CEEP economics, a program of the National Council on Economic Education, brings together U.S. economic educators with their counterparts from central and eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and other transition and developing countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East, and provides technical assistance and training to help educators and their students to better understand the global market economy. In-country teacher training conducted by U.S. faculty in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union provided the dataset for this paper. "The in-country teacher training program emphasizes an active learning approach and introduces basic economic concepts to teachers with limited background in economics. " (CEE, 2008). One CEEP component, a six-day introductory-level seminar for secondary teachers, was conducted in thirteen countries (Albania, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan) by American university economics faculty. The introductory seminar covered basic and market economic theory and methods and material for teaching economics at the secondary or introductory postsecondary levels. A key underlying assumption of CEEP training and of this study is that, as the youth of EEFSU enter the newly reformed market economies they must understand and embrace the economic concepts that underlie the transformed economic order and that educators have a key role in this process. Both Watts and Walstad (2002) and Pleskovic, et. al. (2002), highlight the need for well-trained teachers who see the importance of teaching solid market-based economics in the primary and secondary grades, as well as at higher education levels, to assure a flow of citizens who can make informed decisions as voters and as policymakers.

Previous research has shown that formal economic education significantly increases knowledge of economics and yields a more positive attitude toward markets (Watts, Walstad, and Skiba, 2002; Walstad, 2002) or toward market economics as a subject (Walstad and Soper, 1989; Soper and Walstad, 1983). As experience is also a powerful teacher, one might speculate that attitudes of educators toward free markets and economic issues and policies might depend on, in addition to formal training, their own economic status and experiences. Over the years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the status of reform has varied widely among the transforming countries (Aslund, 2002).

The purpose of this study is twofold: One, it is to look at attitudes of economic educators in the countries of EEFSU to determine if, before a one-week seminar in market economics and economic teaching methods, these attitudes vary by the reform progress of the educators' own nations and, if so, in just what ways. Second, it is to investigate if and how these attitudes change over the course of the one-week seminar.

Data from the CEEP introductory seminars contains pre- and post-seminar measures of cognitive economic knowledge, attitudes toward markets, and a variety of demographic variables, making this study possible.

SAMPLE AND DATA

The primary data for this study were collected by the Education Development Center (EDC), the US-based organization that evaluated the CEEP from 1995 to 2001. The entire data set consists of information on participant background, their knowledge of economic concepts, and their attitudes toward markets and market concepts.

The sample for this study consists of 425 educators who enrolled in one of ten introductory economic education workshops conducted in nine countries by the CEEP in 19952001. …

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