Academic journal article International Advances in Economic Research

The Write Experience in Economics: A Case Study from Central Connecticut State University

Academic journal article International Advances in Economic Research

The Write Experience in Economics: A Case Study from Central Connecticut State University

Article excerpt

Abstract The ability to engage in efficient and effective written communication is essential for those pursuing a career in economics. Unfortunately, it is a skill often overlooked by many undergraduate economics programs. Those that do emphasize writing often wait to introduce the skill until students are at an advanced point of their studies. Although this approach is preferred to one that omits the skill entirely, students often find this approach frustrating, as they feel unprepared for the written work now expected of them. The reasons for this omission are varied, but include: resource and time constraints, a lack of experience teaching writing, and a feeling that teaching writing is not the responsibility of the economics department. Advances in technology have, however, made the introduction of written work less costly for faculty and more beneficial to students. The Write Experience software (available as part of the Cengage learning-technology package) has been used several times within the economics department at Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). The software has increased student's exposure to open-ended questions and provided the opportunity for students to hone their written communication skills. Using ordered probit estimation techniques this research identified the factors that influence the quality of a CCSU student's written work. Results indicate that the written communication skills of CCSU students differ by race, gender, and field of study. These findings highlight the need for continued development of written communication skills at various points in the curriculum and identify areas where additional resources may provide the greatest benefit.

Keywords Written communication * Pedagogy * Assessment * Ordered probit estimation * Software

JEL A20

Introduction

The ability to write efficiently and effectively is an essential component of a career in economics. It is also a skill that few programs directly address, especially at the principles or introductory level. There are several reasons for this, including time and resource constraints. Grading written work is often viewed as time consuming and laborious (although this need not always be true) and principles sections are often large. Economics faculty members may not feel that they are properly prepared to teach written communication. Writing instruction is often thought of as "the responsibility of colleagues from other departments." There is also the belief that students should already know how to write. While some of the above may be (at least) partially true, they do not, in and of themselves, present a compelling case to omit written work from introductory courses. This is especially true, given the advances in technology that are becoming more and more integrated into courses regardless of whether they are taught traditionally, flipped, on-line, or hybrid.

One of the more popular writing packages, the Write Experience, has been employed for several semesters in a large (i.e., 200+ student) section of principles of macroeconomics taught on the New Britain, Connecticut campus of Central Connecticut State University (CCSU). The technology is integrated with the Cengage learning-technology package, which students are required to purchase at the beginning of the semester. The software is able to grade the students' writing both in terms of content and composition. Moreover, the software provides feedback to the student who is then able to re-work the problem aware of the shortcomings of their previous attempt.

While the students responded well to the software package itself and many had scores that improved throughout the semester, its use allowed us to identify how a student's background influenced the quality of their writing. Empirical analysis carefully considered the possibility that a student's gender, level of preparedness as measured by their Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) score, and choice of major are systematically related to the quality of their writing. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.