I do not employ a single teaching approach to all of my classes. Instead I have a few principles which guide me as I approach any class:
Content, rather than style, matters most in being an effective teacher. This is a particularly important lesson for me, because I have no shortage of energy in the classroom and I truly enjoy experimenting with different methods and tools. But I quickly learned that it was my success (or failure!) in communicating the key insights of a given model or text that mattered most to my students. I work hard to help my students truly grasp the material and to convince them that it is important. Those tasks accomplished, I hope that my own enthusiasm is icing on the cake.
Economics is a genuinely fascinating subject, so if my students aren't engaged and curious, I'm probably not communicating clearly.
I try to have a firm plan but take a flexible approach to the semester. (These are complementary, not opposed.) A clear plan at the start of a semsester allows me the greatest degree of flexibility to expand on concepts that prove more challenging than I anticipated and cut lessons that are less cruicial to the main goals of the course. The same is true of an individual class session.
Grades ought to accurately reflect mastery of the material. I pose challenging questions to my students that require them to use the concepts that we've covered in ways we haven't already examined. This often means that even very good students earn lower grades than they are accustomed to. I acknowledge that this style is outside the norm for typical grading, and so I often offer numerous opportunities for extra credit in my courses. I hope that these additional assignments provide ample opportunity to develop greater mastery of the material.
ECON 200 - Introductory Macroeconomics
ECON 201 - Introductory Microeconomics
Introductory Microeconomics is a required course for all JMU College of Business students. I taught this course in Fall 2016 and Spring 2018.
ECON 302 - History of Economic Thought
History of Economic Thought is an upper level elective for Economics majors and minors only. I taught this course in Spring 2017 and Spring 2018. The class was primarily lecture based, but contained a healthy dose of group discussion. In my opinion, the best sessions were those in which I talked the least. Here is a sample of the type of discussion guide I tried to provide before class. Here is the syllabus.
ECON 300 - Economics and Ethics
Economics and Ethics is a special topics elective for Economics majors and minors only. I taught this course in Fall 2017. I conducted the class as a seminar.
Here is the syllabus.
ECON 405 - Political Economy
Political Economy is an upper level elective for Economics majors and minors only. I am teaching this class in Fall 2018 and Spring 2019. The class is primarily discussion based and I try to keep my lecturing to a minimum.
Here is the syllabus.