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Does Pluralism in Economics Education Make Better Educated, Happier Students? A Qualitative Analysis


  • Andrew Mearman

    () (University of the West of England)

  • Tim Wakeley

    (Griffith University)

  • Gamila Shoib

    (Griffith University)

  • Don J. Webber

    (Auckland University of Technology)


This paper contributes to the debate on pluralism in the economics curriculum. Here pluralism means a diversity of theoretical perspectives. One set of pedagogical arguments for pluralism are those found in 'liberal' philosophy of education. To this end, the first part of the paper presents arguments for pluralism based on 'liberal' pedagogical arguments. The paper also notes more instrumental arguments for pluralism and the barriers to such an approach. Finally, the paper considers new primary evidence from focus groups on student perceptions of economics. This evidence shows support for the arguments that a pluralist curriculum is popular and develops cognitive capacities of criticism, comparison and analysis – exactly those argued for in (liberal) pedagogical discussion – as well as judgement, understanding and writing skills. However, pluralism as a teaching strategy may be more difficult for those delivering it.

Suggested Citation

  • 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, vol. 10(2), pages 50-62.
  • Handle: RePEc:che:ireepp:v:10:y:2011:i:2:p:50-62

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Don J. Webber & Andrew Mearman, 2012. "Students’ perceptions of economics: identifying demand for further study," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(9), pages 1121-1132, March.
    2. Don J. Webber & Andrew Mearman, 2009. "Students’ perceptions of economics:Identifying demand for further study," Working Papers 0914, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.
    3. Hendrik P. van Dalen, 2003. "Pluralism in Economics: A Public Good or a Public Bad?," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 03-034/1, Tinbergen Institute, revised 18 May 2004.
    4. Colander, David, 2003. "The Aging of an Economist," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 25(02), pages 157-176, June.
    5. Paul Downward & Andrew Mearman, 2007. "Retroduction as mixed-methods triangulation in economic research: reorienting economics into social science," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 31(1), pages 77-99, January.
    6. Oliver Budzinski, 2008. "Monoculture versus diversity in competition economics," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(2), pages 295-324, March.
    7. Andrew Mearman, 2008. "Pluralism and Heterodoxy: Introduction to the Special Issue," The Journal of Philosophical Economics, Bucharest Academy of Economic Studies, The Journal of Philosophical Economics, vol. 1(2), pages 5-25, March.
    8. Robert Garnett & Andrew Mearman, 2011. "Contending Perspectives, Twenty Years On: What Have Our Students Learned?," Working Papers 201104, Texas Christian University, Department of Economics.
    9. M. Ruth & K. Donaghy & P. Kirshen, 2006. "Introduction," Chapters,in: Regional Climate Change and Variability, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrew Mearman & Aspasia Papa & Don Webber, 2014. "Why do Students Study Economics?," Economic Issues Journal Articles, Economic Issues, vol. 19(1), pages 119-147, March.
      • Andrew Mearman & Aspasia Papa & Don J. Webber, 2013. "Why do students study economics?," Working Papers 20131303, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.
    2. Helmy, Heba E., 2016. "A lottery on the first day of classes! An innovative structured steps assignment on a partially randomly selected topic," International Review of Economics Education, Elsevier, vol. 21(C), pages 41-47.

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