My hybrid course (ECON 424/524) in a nutshell

Here’s a description of my hybrid course, ECON 424/524: Introduction to Econometrics, in a nutshell. The course will enroll 25-30 students, mostly junior and senior economics majors. The course covers the basics of econometric analysis, focusing on multivariate linear regression analysis. My goal is to equip students with an understanding of how economists and other social scientists conduct quantitative empirical analysis, i.e., how they use data to test theories. Many students find the course challenging, because it involves a substantial amount of math and statistics. The difficulty that students face in absorbing this material in a traditional lecture format prompted me to develop this hybrid course, in hopes that incorporating online instruction would provide a new medium for students to learn the material.

We will meet twice per week: once for 80 minutes for an in-class session, and once for 50 minutes for a computer lab session. Students will be responsible for about two hours of online activities per week. I plan to incorporate many elements of the “flipped classroom” in my course. Online activities will consist largely of video lecture that will supplement textbook reading. The 80-minute classroom sessions will focus on problem solving, although I will also reserve time for review of lecture material and student questions. The weekly computer lab sessions will focus on application of the course content using statistical software; students will complete laboratory exercises that ask them to apply econometric techniques to social science datasets that I provide.

In moving from a traditional on-class version of the course to this hybrid version, the novel components are the video lectures and the 80-minute classroom session. I plan to produce my own video lectures in the Khan Academy mold: short (5-15 minute) mini-lectures on a particular subtopic in econometrics, consisting of my narration over whiteboard-style description of the concepts. In fact, Khan Academy and other online courses already have some appropriate material that I plan to assign, although I will produce the bulk of recorded lectures.

During the 80-minute classroom session, I plan to spend most of the time solving practice problems. In each session, I will have a series of practice problems that cover the week’s material and are similar to what students will face on their graded homework and exams. I will vary the way in which we solve these problems throughout the session: sometimes I will walk the entire class through a problem, asking for voluntary input as we go along. Other times I will split students into small groups, and ask a group to show how they solved the problem to the rest of the class. For shorter problems, I may poll the class about possible solutions, and ask students who disagree with each other to discuss their answers and see if they reach consensus. I will also inevitably need some classroom time to review the trickier parts of lecture material, as well as to set aside time to answer student questions.

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One Response to My hybrid course (ECON 424/524) in a nutshell

  1. Kate Lajtha says:

    This seems like a great use of the hybrid format — and similar to my use. Online material replaces the “shut up and take notes on what I say” portion of the class, and the rest, the part that needs interaction, is done face to face. Still, you are brave — you are committing to almost 2.5 hours a week of doing math problems interactively!

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