Unit: Economics
Program: Economics (BA)
Degree: Bachelor's
Date: Mon Oct 11, 2010 - 8:55:48 pm

1) Below are the program student learning outcomes submitted last year. Please add/delete/modify as needed.

As is published in our undergraduate guide, Majoring in Economics: A Guide to the Economics Undergraduate Program, the objective of our undergraduate program is to provide a high-quality educational experience that enables students to understand the range of economic challenges facing Hawai‘i, the United States, and the Asia-Pacific region. To reach these goals, the Department has set out the following learning outcomes;

·         Economic literacy: Be able to clearly explain core economic terms, concepts and theories.  

·         Critical thinking: Demonstrate the ability to apply economic reasoning to contemporary social issues and policy problems. 

·         Quantitative reasoning: Apply appropriate quantitative and statistical techniques to economic analysis. Conduct economic analysis using equations and graphs.  

·         Reporting: Develop expertise needed to effectively communicate results of economic research and analysis to colleagues and decision-makers through written reports and oral presentations.

 These SLOs were discussed and voted on by the faculty in AY 2005-6. 

2) As of last year, your program's SLOs were published as follows. Please update as needed.

Department Website URL:
Student Handbook. URL, if available online: http://www.economics.hawaii.edu/undergrad/UGguide.pdf
Information Sheet, Flyer, or Brochure URL, if available online:
UHM Catalog. Page Number:
Course Syllabi. URL, if available online:

3) Below is the link to your program's curriculum map (if submitted in 2009). If it has changed or if we do not have your program's curriculum map, please upload it as a PDF.

Curriculum Map File(s) from 2009:

4) The percentage of courses in 2009 that had course SLOs explicitly stated on the syllabus, a website, or other publicly available document is indicated below. Please update as needed.


5) State the assessment question(s) and/or goals of the assessment activity. Include the SLOs that were targeted, if applicable.

The objective of the assessment is to evaluate if our undergraduate program remain rigorous and aligned with the SLOs listed in question 1.

The department UG program wanted to find out how our students perform in the following areas (from low performance (1) to high performance (3)).  

1.  Understand and apply economic concepts and theories in a clear and effective manner

1)      Does not understand nor apply economic concepts; is confused

2)      Describes economic concepts, but does not clearly understand or apply them

3)      Understands and applies economic concepts and theories in a clear and effective manner

2.      Think critically and solve problems

1)      Does not identify question at hand, and fails to think critically and solve problems

2)      Identifies question at hand, but fails to think critically and solve problems

3)      Identifies question at hand, thinks critically and solves problems in an illuminating way

 3.      Demonstrate quantitative skills

1)      Does not understand or apply quantitative skills to the topic/issue

2)      Uses quantitative skills relevant to the topic/issue but applies them incorrectly or in an incomplete manner

3)      Uses quantitative skills to address the issue/topic at hand

 4.      Communicate your findings both orally and in writing 

1)      Fails to orally communicate findings in a meaningful way and/or fails to communicate findings in writing

2)      Communicates findings orally, but fails to stimulate interest from audience and/or communicates findings in writing in an unclear manner

3)      Clearly communicates findings orally and stimulates interest and discussion from the audience and communicates findings in writing in a clear and stimulating manner 

6) State the type(s) of evidence gathered.

We implemented a course-embedded assessment program. In December 2009, we assessed student performance in two Econ 300 course, three Econ 301 courses, and one Econ 321 course. While grading the final exams for their section, instructors scored at least 50 percent of randomly selected students using the department’s scoring rubric that was developed in 2005-2006.

7) Who interpreted or analyzed the evidence that was collected?

Course instructor(s)
Faculty committee
Ad hoc faculty group
Department chairperson
Persons or organization outside the university
Faculty advisor
Advisors (in student support services)
Students (graduate or undergraduate)

8) How did they evaluate, analyze, or interpret the evidence?

Used a rubric or scoring guide
Scored exams/tests/quizzes
Used professional judgment (no rubric or scoring guide used)
Compiled survey results
Used qualitative methods on interview, focus group, open-ended response data
External organization/person analyzed data (e.g., external organization administered and scored the nursing licensing exam)

9) State how many persons submitted evidence that was evaluated.
If applicable, please include the sampling technique used.

While grading the final exams for their section, instructors scored at least 50 percent of randomly selected students using the department’s scoring rubric (see the scoring rubric attached). The total number of students assessed is 111 for the Fall of 2009. 

10) Summarize the actual results.

The results of December 2009 assessment show that, although there are variations across individual instructors, a lot of instructors reported that our students performed poorly in “Quantitative reasoning” learning outcomes. Out of the 7 courses, instructors in 5 courses reported lowest scores in quantitative reasoning. That is, our students showed weakness in conducting economic analysis using equations and graphs, calculating numbers, and presenting descriptive statistics. This is consistent with the results for 2007 and 2008.  Assessment for Econ 300 (especially one instructor) showed a relatively poor performance of the “Reporting” learning outcomes; i.e., presenting economic arguments, summarizing the arguments in a written form, or discussing economic concepts in an articulate manner in a classroom. However, assessment for Econ 301 shows that our students did relatively well for this reporting learning outcomes. This pattern of variation across courses is also consistent with previous years.  Hence, we could say that this year’s assessment is not much different from previous years. This result may not be surprising, because reporting may be less important for Econ 301 and Econ 321, while these two courses require more rigorous quantitative and conceptual skills than any other courses.

We also examined how these rubric scores command exam scores or grade in Econ 301 (based on regression method). One interesting finding is that the economic literacy commands high scores most likely, while reporting is little correlated with students’ grade. This means that our instructor in Econ 301 also give more weight on economic literacy and less weight on reporting skills to evaluate students’ performance. 

11) How did your program use the results? --or-- Explain planned use of results.
Please be specific.

The assessment results across our courses provided some implications. One strong implication is that our students performed poorly in quantitative reasoning learning outcomes particularly in micro economics.

The department came up with two solutions. The first option was to offer a course which commands a much stronger quantitative skills course. This has a merit because there are huge variations amongst our students. Thus, we offered Econ 420, Mathematical Economics, in the Spring of 2010 (Ruben Juarez), which target students with some good quantitative skills. The course has not been offered almost for a decade.

Second, a departments ad-hoc committee (Konan, Xiaojun, and Lee) discussed with Mathematical Department to offer a
new course for our students. Math 161, Precalculus and Elements of Calculus forEconomics and the Social Sciences,, is being developed. The course is
designed to strengthen the mathematical preparation of students in the social
sciences, and particularly in economics. First of all, there is no formal
mathematics requirement for economics majors beyond the admissions requirement
to UH Manoa. Many economics students are not comfortable even with Algebra II, the mastery of which is
envisioned in the national standards. On the other hand, quite a few
non-introductory economics courses require a mathematical understanding that
includes the basics of calculus. Math 161 will offer students an opportunity to
learn some of this mathematics. Better prepared students will benefit more from
their economics courses, and they will do better in them. 

The course is proposed to be cross-listed between mathematics and economics departments.  In addition, we are applying for symbolic reasoning (FS) designation for this course, so that economics majors can use Math 161 to satisfy their FS requirement. The course is designed and will be taught to meet the symbolic reasoning hallmarks. 

The course has been recently approved by the Mathematics department.It is now being submitted to the university for approval.

12) Beyond the results, were there additional conclusions or discoveries? This can include insights about assessment procedures, teaching and learning, program aspects and so on.

We expanded the assessment in 2009 and would like to keep the expanded format. By conductinging the assessment consistently for a number of years, we will be able to trace whether the feedback from the assessment will help our instructors to improve student learning. Further, in the future we may consider expanding the assessment techniques, by including such elements as collecting statistics on our graduates job placements, or getting the feedback from our graduating students and alumni on the perceived strengths and weaknesses of our program.

13) Other important information: