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Why do students study economics?

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Author Info

  • Andrew Mearman

    ()
    (University of the West of England, Bristol)

  • Aspasia Papa

    (University of the West of England, Bristol)

  • Don J. Webber

    ()
    (University of the West of England, Bristol)

Abstract

This paper presents a chronological, adaptive and reflective investigation into students’ perceptions of and motivations for choosing to study economics. Applications of multiple techniques to student-level primary data reveal the following. First, students’ perceptions of economics are on average somewhat negative, although there is considerable variation. Second, they regard economics as having value, in terms of providing insight, specialist knowledge, and skills of argumentation (all of which are perceived to be superior to peers). Third, they recognise the subject yields financial and other career advantages and has kudos. Fourth, they suggest that the relevance and usefulness of economics is important and consequently that excessive theorisation and a lack of practicality are problematic. These findings have considerable implications for how economics is taught, and for the nature of the subject itself.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol in its series Working Papers with number 20131303.

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Date of creation: 03 Jan 2013
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Handle: RePEc:uwe:wpaper:20131303

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Postal: Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol BS16 1QY
Phone: 0117 328 3610
Web page: http://www1.uwe.ac.uk/bl/research/bristoleconomics.aspx
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Keywords: Mixed-methods; UK student perceptions; Realisticness; Focus groups; Survey;

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References

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  1. Siegfried, John J & Round, David K, 1994. "The Australian Undergraduate Economics Degree: Results from a Survey of Students," The Economic Record, The Economic Society of Australia, The Economic Society of Australia, vol. 70(209), pages 192-203, June.
  2. Yu Zhu & Ian Walker, 2011. "Differences by Degree: Evidence of the Net Financial Rates of Return to Undergraduate Study for England and Wales," Working Papers, AlmaLaurea Inter-University Consortium 33, AlmaLaurea Inter-University Consortium.
  3. Andrew Mearman & Tim Wakeley & Gamila Shoib & Don J. Webber, 2011. "Does Pluralism in Economics Education Make Better Educated, Happier Students? A Qualitative Analysis," International Review of Economic Education, Economics Network, University of Bristol, Economics Network, University of Bristol, vol. 10(2), pages 50-62.
  4. repec:lan:wpaper:2155 is not listed on IDEAS
  5. Don J. Webber & Andrew Mearman, 2012. "Students’ perceptions of economics: identifying demand for further study," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(9), pages 1121-1132, March.
  6. Colander, David, 2003. "The Aging of an Economist," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge University Press, vol. 25(02), pages 157-176, June.
  7. Robert F. Garnett Jr. & Andrew Mearman, 2011. "Contending perspectives, 20 years on: what have our students learned?," International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 2(1), pages 2-18.
  8. Paul Ormerod, 2003. "Turning the Tide: Bringing Economics Teaching into the Twenty First Century," International Review of Economic Education, Economics Network, University of Bristol, Economics Network, University of Bristol, vol. 1(1), pages 71-79.
  9. Peter Davies & Ross Guest, 2010. "What effect do we really have on students' understanding and attitudes? How do we know?," International Review of Economic Education, Economics Network, University of Bristol, Economics Network, University of Bristol, vol. 9(1), pages 6-9.
  10. repec:lan:wpaper:2409 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. John R. Carter & Michael D. Irons, 1991. "Are Economists Different, and If So, Why?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 171-177, Spring.
  12. David Colander, 2000. "Telling Better Stories in Introductory Macro," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 76-80, May.
  13. Daniel R. Marburger, 2001. "Absenteeism and Undergraduate Exam Performance," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(2), pages 99-109, January.
  14. repec:lan:wpaper:2153 is not listed on IDEAS
  15. Robert Garnett & Andrew Mearman, 2011. "Contending Perspectives, Twenty Years On: What Have Our Students Learned?," Working Papers, Texas Christian University, Department of Economics 201104, Texas Christian University, Department of Economics.
  16. Andrea L. Ziegert & KimMarie McGoldrick, 2008. "When Service is Good for Economics: Linking the Classroom and Community through Service-Learning," International Review of Economic Education, Economics Network, University of Bristol, Economics Network, University of Bristol, vol. 7(2), pages 39-56.
  17. repec:lan:wpaper:2271 is not listed on IDEAS
  18. C. Bram Cadsby & Elizabeth Maynes, 1998. "Laboratory experiments in corporate and investment finance: a survey," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4-5), pages 277-298.
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Cited by:
  1. Andrew Mearman, 2012. "Pluralist economics curricula: do they work; and how would we know?," Working Papers, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol 20121203, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.

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