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Why do Students Study Economics?

Author

Listed:
  • Andrew Mearman
  • Aspasia Papa
  • Don Webber

Abstract

This paper presents a chronological, adaptive and reflective investigation into students' perceptions of and motivations for choosing to study economics. Applications of multiple quantitative and qualitative techniques to student-level primary survey and focus group 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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eis:articl:114mearman
    as

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    File URL: http://www.economicissues.org.uk/Files/2014/114Mearman.pdf
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    Other versions of this item:

    • 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.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    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. repec:lan:wpaper:2153 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Paul Ormerod, 2003. "Turning the Tide: Bringing Economics Teaching into the Twenty First Century," International Review of Economic Education, Economics Network, University of Bristol, vol. 1(1), pages 71-79.
    4. C. Bram Cadsby & Elizabeth Maynes, 1998. "Laboratory experiments in corporate and investment finance: a survey," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(4-5), pages 277-298.
    5. Walker, Ian & Zhu, Yu, 2011. "Differences by degree: Evidence of the net financial rates of return to undergraduate study for England and Wales," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1177-1186.
    6. 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.
    7. David Colander, 2000. "Telling Better Stories in Introductory Macro," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(2), pages 76-80, May.
    8. repec:lan:wpaper:2155 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. 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.
    10. Daniel R. Marburger, 2001. "Absenteeism and Undergraduate Exam Performance," The Journal of Economic Education, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(2), pages 99-109, January.
    11. 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, vol. 2(1), pages 2-18.
    12. repec:lan:wpaper:2271 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Andrew Mearman & Tim Wakeley & Gamila Shoib & Don J. Webber, 2009. "Does pluralism in economics education make better educated, happier students? A qualitative analysis," Working Papers 0916, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.
    14. Robert Garnett & Andrew Mearman, 2011. "Contending Perspectives, Twenty Years On: What Have Our Students Learned?," Working Papers 201104, Texas Christian University, Department of Economics.
    15. 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, vol. 70(209), pages 192-203, June.
    16. John R. Carter & Michael D. Irons, 1991. "Are Economists Different, and If So, Why?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 171-177, Spring.
    17. 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, vol. 7(2), pages 39-56.
    18. repec:lan:wpaper:2409 is not listed on IDEAS
    19. 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, vol. 9(1), pages 6-9.
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    Cited by:

    1. Andrew Mearman, 2012. "Pluralist economics curricula: do they work; and how would we know?," Working Papers 20121203, Department of Accounting, Economics and Finance, Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
    • A20 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - General

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