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Recognising and Building on Freshman Students' Prior Knowledge of Economics



The results of three surveys of freshman economics students (2008-2010) at the Waikato Management School, New Zealand, suggest that incoming students have significant levels of prior economics knowledge. Given this head start in knowledge, we have expanded our freshman lecture material with more advanced content than students would normally encounter in a microeconomics principles class. This paper examines the sources of incoming students’ prior economics knowledge and discusses some of the changes made to the learning material. The changes relate principally to the links we make between students’ basic, prior economics knowledge and the more advanced learning content that demonstrates how formal economics training can add considerable value in thinking more deeply about current affairs, business issues and daily life experiences.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael P. Cameron & Steven Lim, 2011. "Recognising and Building on Freshman Students' Prior Knowledge of Economics," Working Papers in Economics 11/05, University of Waikato.
  • Handle: RePEc:wai:econwp:11/05

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    Cited by:

    1. Michael P. Cameron & Rebecca Williams, 2012. "NCEA Level 3 Economics and Economic Literacy in Introductory Economics at University," Working Papers in Economics 12/05, University of Waikato.
    2. M. P. Cameron & S. Siameja, 2017. "An experimental evaluation of a proactive pastoral care initiative within an introductory university course," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 49(18), pages 1808-1820, April.

    More about this item


    freshman economics; economic literacy; prior learning;

    JEL classification:

    • A20 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - General
    • A22 - General Economics and Teaching - - Economic Education and Teaching of Economics - - - Undergraduate


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