Unit: Economics
Program: Economics (BA)
Degree: Bachelor's
Date: Fri Oct 11, 2013 - 11:36:02 am

1) Below are your program's student learning outcomes (SLOs). Please update 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) Your program's SLOs are 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: http://www.economics.hawaii.edu/courses.html

3) Select one option:

Curriculum Map File(s) from 2013:

4) For your program, the percentage of courses that have course SLOs explicitly stated on the syllabus, a website, or other publicly available document is as follows. Please update as needed.


5) Did your program engage in any program assessment activities between June 1, 2012 and September 30, 2013? (e.g., establishing/revising outcomes, aligning the curriculum to outcomes, collecting evidence, interpreting evidence, using results, revising the assessment plan, creating surveys or tests, etc.)

No (skip to question 14)

6) For the period June 1, 2012 to September 30, 2013: State the assessment question(s) and/or assessment goals. Include the SLOs that were targeted, if applicable.

The objective of the assessment is to evaluate the current status of our undergraduate students with respect to the SLOs listed in question 1.

The department uses a grading rubric to determine 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

7) State the type(s) of evidence gathered to answer the assessment question and/or meet the assessment goals that were given in Question #6.

We implemented a course-embedded assessment program.  In December 2012, we assessed student performance in three Econ 300 courses, one Econ 301 course, 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.

8) 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. 113 student were assessed in the Fall of 2012: 43 from Econ 300, 45 from Econ 301, and 25 from Econ 321.

9) Who interpreted or analyzed the evidence that was collected? (Check all that apply.)

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)

10) How did they evaluate, analyze, or interpret the evidence? (Check all that apply.)

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)

11) For the assessment question(s) and/or assessment goal(s) stated in Question #6:
Summarize the actual results.

The results of the December 2012 assessment showed that students performed well on the Economic Literacy and Reporting SLOs, with over 90% of students receiving a 2 or 3 in these areas.  However, only 80% received a 2 or 3 on Critical Thinking, and 75% in Quantitative Reasoning.  This indicates a relative weakness among our students in applying economic reasoning to real-world problems and using equations, graphs, and descriptive statistics to perform economic analyses.  This pattern is consistent with trends noted in previous years.

It is noteworthy, however, that the Quantitiative Reasoning scores appeared to be particularly high in Econ 321, a class on statistics.  This is different from previous years, in which Econ 321 students generally scored lower in this area.  Since increasing students' quantitiative skills is an important goal of the Econ 321 class, this indicates that the Econ 321 class has been more successful in this regard than in the past.

12) State how the program used the results or plans to use the results. Please be specific.

In collaboration with Mathematics Department, we helped develop the course Math 161: Pre-calculus and Elements of Calculus for Economics and Social Sciences. The course is particularly beneficial for students in economics and social sciences since the course uses specific examples frequently used in Economics as well as in other fields of Social Sciences. Beginning the Fall of 2011, we offered this course every semester for which about 30-60 students registered.  Efforts to cross-list the course with the economics department are ongoing.

Given the huge variation amongst students, we have also offered a course specially focused on quantitative skills. Econ 420: Mathematical Economics has been offered 3 times since Fall 2010.  This class seeks to increase quantitiative reasoning skills among more senior students.

To assist with both quantitative reasoning and critical thinking skills among younger students, we have participated in the Chancellor's TA Initiative.  Beginning in Fall 2012, the economics department received one additional TA per year.  This individual is currently being used to offer a lecture/discussion format in one Econ 130: Principles of Microeconomics class every semester.  The graduate student teaching assistants teach several small (10-25 student) discussion sections each week that supplement the regular lectures.  This allows students to participate in a smaller classroom setting than Econ 130 traditionally offers.   From the first year of this class, we have found evidence of an increase in performance among students in the middle of the grade distribution.  Students who regularly attended the discussion sections appeared to benefit from the increased instructor attention, opportunity to have questions answered, and participation in group work.  However, it is not clear that the structure reduced DFIW rates.  In coming years, we hope to see that this additional investment in helping students acquire foundational skills in economics will improve their critical thinking and quantitative reasoning skills as assessed at the intermediate level and improve the measured student success rate, and we will continue to experiment with the format of TA-led discussion sections to determine how best to achieve this goal.

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


14) If the program did not engage in assessment activities, please explain.
Or, if the program did engage in assessment activities, please add any other important information here.