Samuel Bowles, Wendy Carlin, 07 September 2017

Our intro courses fail to reflect the dramatic advances in economics – concerning information problems and strategic interactions, for example – since Samuelson’s paradigm-setting 1948 textbook. Missing, too, is any sustained engagement with new problems we now confront and on which economics has important insights for public policy – climate change, innovation, instability and growing inequality amongst them. This column introduces a free online interactive text – now used as the standard intro at UCL, Sciences Po, and Toulouse School of Economics – which responds.

Gervas Huxley, Mike Peacey, 13 August 2017

In an attempt to improve incentives for university teaching, the UK government recently introduced a Teaching Excellence Framework. This column uses data on contact hours and class size to measure how much teaching students receive at university. The results reveal large variation across disciplines, and even larger variation within disciplines.

Philip Oreopoulos, Uros Petronijevic, 13 November 2016

Questions over the value of a university education are underscored by negative student experiences. Personalised coaching is a promising, but costly, tool to improve student experiences and performance. This column presents the results from an experiment comparing coaching with lower cost ‘nudge’ interventions. While coaching led to a significant increase in average course grades, online and text message interventions had no effect. The benefits of coaching appear to derive from the trust-based nature of relationships and personalised attention.

Nicholas Bloom, Renata Lemos, Raffaella Sadun, John Van Reenen, 07 December 2014

Schools with greater autonomy often perform well, but there is disagreement over whether this is due to better management or cherry-picking of students. Based on interviews with over 1,800 head teachers, this column finds that management quality is strongly correlated with pupil performance. Autonomous schools have better management, and this result does not appear to be driven by pupil composition or other observable factors. However, autonomy for head teachers is not enough – accountability to school governors is also needed.

Wendy Carlin, 20 May 2014

Wendy Carlin talks to Viv Davies about the 'Curriculum Open-access Resources in Economics' (CORE) project, which was established by the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) at Oxford and proposes a new approach to economics teaching for undergraduates. The aim is to update the existing economics curriculum so that it reflects recent developments in economics, the economy and in teaching methods. They discuss the 'three gaps' in economics teaching that the project seeks to close. The interview was recorded in April 2014 at the annual conference of the Royal Economic Society.

Diane Coyle, 04 May 2014

The undergraduate economics curriculum is hugely influential, since today’s undergraduates are tomorrow’s policymakers. The massive policy failures before and after the Global Crisis have thus prompted a rethink. This column argues that there is a reasonable degree of consensus on the need for curriculum reform, but no agreement on whether this means rejecting the basic building blocks of the subject. Nevertheless, undergraduate courses in five or ten years will almost surely have changed considerably in character.

Carlo Carraro, Marianne Fay, Marzio Galeotti, 26 April 2014

The concept of environmental capital is throughly entrenched in policy dicussions but largely missing from mainstream economic curriculums. This column argues environmental externalities, climate change, and constraints on natural resources will constantly and deeply affect humankind’s future. The teaching of economics, especially growth economics, should stop ignoring them.

Diane Coyle, 19 September 2012

Five years after Lehman’s collapse, economics is under fire both from outside and inside the profession for irrelevance, arrogance and more. This column introduces a new Vox debate focused on two questions: What’s the use of economics, and how should we be teaching it to the next generation?

Catherine Haeck, Frank Verboven, 17 June 2010

How does a university organise its hiring and promotion policy? This column presents evidence on the personnel policy of a large European university. It suggests that the university is organised as an internal labour market, and while promotion dynamics depend on research and teaching performance, persistent administrative rigidities remain.

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