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Toward Bridging The Gap Between Theory And Empirical Reality

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  • Stephen graham Saunders

Abstract

Introductory ("i.e." first year) undergraduate learners often perceive economics to be remote from reality and overly theoretical, leading to a lack of motivation and enthusiasm to study economics. A general survey of curriculum practice reveals that lecture materials and the pedagogic approach to teaching introductory economics often do not place the current "mainstream" economic theory into its philosophical context. The result being that the learners are unable to bridge the gap between abstract economic theory and empirical reality. This paper argues that research into effective teaching and learning should focus not only on learner characteristics but also on curriculum content and its philosophical underpinnings, in order to research why students hold these negative perceptions. The paper recommends that introductory undergraduate teaching needs to engage in a critical examination, with the learner, of the philosophical underpinnings of "mainstream" economic theory and to introduce debates about the implications of these into the curriculum. This would create exciting new opportunities for teachers and learners to explore the connections between economic theory and social science in general and should come a long way in changing the negative perceptions of introductory undergraduate economics. Copyright (c) 2008 The Author. Journal compilation (c) 2008 Economic Society of South Africa.

Suggested Citation

  • Stephen graham Saunders, 2008. "Toward Bridging The Gap Between Theory And Empirical Reality," South African Journal of Economics, Economic Society of South Africa, vol. 76(4), pages 738-748, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:sajeco:v:76:y:2008:i:4:p:738-748
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Robert H. Frank, 2002. "The Economic Naturalist: Teaching Introductory Students How to Speak Economics," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 459-462, May.
    2. Green, Tom L., 2013. "Teaching (un)sustainability? University sustainability commitments and student experiences of introductory economics," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 135-142.

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