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January 17, 2017 Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Education Division of AIER is not only creating and executing innovative programs, but also conducts scientific research on the impact of those programs on their constituencies. At the recent 2017 annual meeting of the American Economic Association (AEA) in Chicago, I presented the results of the first two cycles of the Teach-the-Teachers Initiative program, “Economics Across the Curriculum.”

The most important goal of the program is to help teachers improve their ability to incorporate economic concepts into their curriculum. We are excited to report that the 24 teachers who participated in our program in 2014 and 2015 successfully brought economics lessons to 483 high school students. These students were each taught one economic concept, which was integrated into a lesson by a one of the teachers who participated in one of our multi-day workshops.

An effective teacher is one who projects confidence and ease of understanding the material. The statement, “I am confident in my knowledge about this topic” gained only positive responses in our field-test evaluation survey of teachers.

“Students actively engaged with the materials” gained 92 percent of teachers’ satisfaction. Since one of the program’s goals is to enhance active learning techniques, this result is very encouraging. Additionally, 92 percent of teachers felt that “Students interacted with the teacher and others.”

The questionnaire also was administered to students at the end of each field-test class, and students were asked about their experience. Overall, we received overwhelmingly positive feedback from students. Ninety-four percent of 483 students showed positive attitudes toward field-tested lessons (see chart).

I concluded that we have adequate evidence that teachers included economic concepts in their lessons in innovative and obviously engaging ways. We also have evidence that teachers felt that they have a better understanding of an economic concept, and that students observed that knowledge. This bodes well for the prospect of the students retaining the information as suggested by the literature, which I surveyed in my paper published in the Perspectives on Economic Education Research.

The next step in the research process accompanying AIER’s programmatic expansion is the collection of data measuring the impact on students’ knowledge acquisition after they are taught by an AIER-trained teacher. We asked teachers to create a test to be administered to students before and after they teach the class. Ideally, we would see an improvement of student’s grade after an economic concept is taught. This work is being carried out as we speak by the teachers of the 2016 cohort. I will keep you posted on the outcomes as soon as the data gathering, input, and analysis is complete. Stay tuned and check our blog often!

Natalia Smirnova, PhD

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