May 1, 2017 Reading Time: 2 minutes

In my last blog, I described how teachers improve their knowledge of economic concepts by attending our Teach-the-Teachers program. Today I would like to turn my attention to students. Students directly affected by our teachers are the ones who experienced the field test of the lesson—that is, they were in attendance the day of the field test, took pre-lesson and post-lesson tests, and filled out the lesson-evaluation survey.

The class sessions, where the teachers’ ideas were implemented, were attended by 723 students. Of those, 249 were taught by teachers from the Boston cohort, 191 from the Philadelphia cohort, and 283 from the Chicago cohort. The above chart shows the improvement in students’ knowledge between pre-lesson test and post-lesson test by location.

On average, students’ scores improved by 26 percent. This average is derived from the individual students’ performance on the pre-lesson test compared with the post lesson test. Most of those test assessments consisted of 10 multiple choice and/or short-response questions. The questions ranged from critical thinking queries to statistical and mathematical calculations. These tests were designed by each teacher to conform with their curriculum. Because each assessment instrument was unique to the teacher and the class in which it was conducted, we must use the averages across classes in each location to compare the results.

The chart shows that the average pre-lesson test score in each location was below 55 percent (a failing grade), indicative of the limited knowledge students had about the economic concepts prior to the field-test lesson. The average post-lesson test scores across all locations demonstrate significant improvement and are within a narrow range of a passing grade. In addition, in the end-of-class evaluation surveys, majority of students stated that their teachers appeared knowledgeable about the subject and the assignments were interactive and relevant to their lives.

Based on my analyses of teachers’ and students’ knowledge acquisition, we can conclude that both teachers and students improved their understanding of economic concepts in a substantial and measurable way. The reasons for this success are the unique features of AIER’s Teach-the-Teachers Initiative: online pre-work preparation of teachers, effective pedagogy exposition during the face-to-face portion of the workshop, and follow-up support.

If you want to experience this program in the upcoming summer, please join us in St. Louis, Miami, or Omaha. Registration is open.


Note: The analysis of students’ outcomes described above was completed by AIER’s academic year intern, Luke Bartini, from Lenox High School.


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Natalia Smirnova, PhD

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