Adapting Pedagogical Innovations Across Disciplines

Scott Simkins, Mark Maier, Bill Goffe and Steve Greenlaw announce on the  tch-econ  list:

Pre-ASSA Roundtable Discussion/Workshop
Adapting Pedagogical Innovations Across Disciplines

At this year’s ASSA meeting in San Francisco (Januray 3-5,2009) we will be hosting a pre-meeting Roundtable Discussion/Workshop exploring pedagogical innovations developed in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines and their adaptability in economics.

In particular, we will focus on pedagogical innovations developed from physics education research such as context-rich problems, just-in-time teaching, interactive lecture demonstrations, and concept tests/peer instruction.

Our objectives for this Roundtable Discussion/Workshop are to:

(1) introduce economists to pedagogical and assessment-related innovations from other disciplines and to encourage more economists to experiment with these techniques in their own classes;

(2) encourage more economists to initiate research exploring the adaptability of these innovations in economics (we believe that there is significant potential in this area, especially with respect to the NSF); and (

3) develop a network of economists interested in interdisciplinary pedagogical connections.

To meet these objectives we plan to share insights from recent research on these topics, develop working groups interested in pursuing funded research opportunities, introduce a significant new NSF-funded Economics Pedagogic Portal project, and promote an economics pedagogy blog focused on
interdisciplinary pedagogy research and teaching innovations.

The ASSA pre-meeting Roundtable Discussion/Workshop will take place at the San Francisco Hilton on Friday, January 2, 2009, from 3:00-5:00 pm in Room Mason A.   ASSA sessions begin the morning of January 3.  We scheduled this meeting so even those from the east coast attending the ASSA meeting should be able to attend.  We hope to have some light refreshments available.

If you can’t attend but are interested in this initiative, please contact
Scott Simkins ( or Mark Maier (

We hope that you will join us for this initial meeting.  If you plan to joinus, please register at:

[Click on Academy for Teaching and Learning, then click on “Sign Up” for the relevant event and complete the registration information.  You will receive a confirmation of your registration and a reminder one day before the event.]


Below are links to some useful background readings related to our meeting.

Why Not Try a Scientific Approach to Science Education?
By Carl Wieman
Change, September/October 2007 Volume 39, Number 5

In this article, Carl Wieman, Nobel-prize-winning physicist, discusses how using the practices of science ■ gathering objective data, building on demonstrated effectiveness, and fully utilizing modern technology ■ can significantly increase students’ learning.  Our interest is in how these principles can be applied to economic education research and the teaching of  economics.

See also:


Learning from Physics Education Research: Lessons for Economics Education
By Scott P. Simkins and Mark H. Maier
June 27, 2008

Download from one of the following repositories:

We believe that economists have much to learn from educational research practices and related pedagogical innovations in other disciplines, in particular physics education. In this paper we identify three key features of physics education research that distinguish it from economics education
research – (1) the intentional grounding of physics education research in learning science principles, (2) a shared conceptual research framework focused on how students learn physics concepts, and (3) a cumulative process of knowledge-building in the discipline – and describe their influence on new teaching pedagogies, instructional activities, and curricular design in physics education. In addition, we highlight four specific examples of successful pedagogical innovations drawn from physics
education – context-rich problems, concept tests, just-in-time teaching, and interactive lecture demonstrations – and illustrate how these practices can be adapted for economic education.


Developing an Economics Pedagogic Portal (grant project)
National Science Foundation
Award Number: DUE 0817382 (2008-2011)
Investigators: Scott Simkins, Mark Maier, KimMarie McGoldrick, Cathryn

Abstract available at:


We look forward to seeing many of you in San Francisco.

Scott Simkins
Mark Maier
Bill Goffe
Steve Greenlaw”

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