The latest annual edition of the “Economic Report of the President” (March 2023) cites the 2016 randomized control trial of online learning outcomes co-authored by Professors Oskar Harmon, Ken Couch, and William Alpert.
Their research is discussed in the context of the feasibility of scaling remote learning. In Chapter 5: Building Stronger Postsecondary Institutions (p179), the report notes:
“Online programs. Some have suggested expanding online options to reduce geographic barriers to access, but research findings suggest caution about this approach. In some settings, such as four-year colleges, there are examples of students doing equally well across both online and in-person formats (Figlio, Rush, and Yin 2013; Bowen et al. 2014), as well as in blended learning approaches combining online and in-person components (Bowen et al. 2014; Alpert, Couch, and Harmon 2016). Other research finds, however, that courses taught through online formats often lead to worse learning outcomes than their in-person counterparts (Joyce et al. 2015; Alpert, Couch, and Harmon 2016; Krieg and Henson 2016).”
The Early College Experience Economics program (https://ece.uconn.edu/) held its annual workshop this fall for 30 Connecticut high school economics teachers who are teaching UConn’s Principles of Microeconomics (ECON 1201), Principles of Macroeconomics (ECON 1202) and/or Essentials of Economics (ECON 1000).
Leading off the workshop was Professor Mike Shor, presenting “Patent Holdup” in which he explained the limits monopoly power conveyed by patents. The complementary relationships among patents and the price determination of purchasing or licensing of patents. He went on to explain the idea of the patent hold up. He also provided the workshop participants with a classroom exercise in which students discover how patents are priced.
There followed a presentation by Professor Natalia Smirnova, “Using Data in the Classroom: FRED database.” Professor Smirnova demonstrated several empirical uses of the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank’s FRED database including both Macro and Micro economic examples.
Professor William Alpert presented a lunch time talk about the “Perils and Pitfalls of Prediction” highlighting the famine predictions of Paul Ehrlich for the 1980 (100’s of millions die) and the failed predictions of The Club of Rome from 1973. Professor Alpert also “predicted” the rise to more than 600 million in the number of horses in the United States if 18th Century trends had continued, assuming no alternative means of transportation.
Professor Steven Lanza then followed up with a presentation entitled “Rediscovering Lost Arts: Economic Index Numbers” in which he stressed the importance of index numbers and the biases in those numbers. He also demonstrated how to calculate them using data that is easy to access and readily available.
Professor Nishith Prakash rendered the concluding presentation concerning a natural experiment concerning the harassment. In India 79% of women living in cities have experienced harassment in public spaces. Professor Prakash and his coauthors set out to determine the effect of street patrolling that targets harassment, on the type and frequency of incidents and women’s proactive responses. They also are trying to determine the impacts of targeting perpetrators of harassment and what drives these changes — visibility, and/or quantity of a focused taskforce?
All of the presentations were well received and the workshop was among the most successful offered by the ECE Economics program.
The Economics Department Early College Experience Program held its annual workshop for teachers on November 1 at the Storrs Campus. The workshop was attended by 25 teachers from high schools across the state who hold the positions of instructor and preceptor of economics responsible for teaching high school students Principles of Microeconomics (Economics 1201), Principles of Macroeconomics (Economics 1202) and Essentials of Economics (Economics 1000) in their high school.
The teachers who attended, learned from a program they inspired by suggesting topics in the spring of 2018. Highlights of this year’s program included Professor Nishith Prakash presenting his work entitled “Gender, Crime and Punishment”, which provided a peek at original economics research. The teachers were excited by this work and raised numerous questions.
Professor Prakash’s paper was followed by a presentation by Professor Natalia Smirnova (a UConn Economics Ph.D.) entitled “Oligarchs and Ivans: A Changing Russian Economy 1990-2020” in which Professor Smirnova provided both background and predictions for the modern Russian Economy including a look forward.
Professor Oskar R. Harmon, who is doing research and teaching about sports economics, presented an exciting session entitled “Sports Economics and Principals of Economics” over lunch. Professor Harmon was followed on the program by Mr. Paul Conant explaining the Kyoto Treaty to the teachers in a session titled “Kyoto and Beyond.”
ECE Economics Coordinator and Emeritus Professor of Economics Bill Alpert capped off the day with his discussion “Income Distribution: What’s the Matter?”
After continuing discussion the workshop was adjourned.
William Alpert, Associate Professor Emeritus, was recently awarded the Thomas E. Recchio Faculty Coordinator Award for Academic Leadership in the University’s Early College Experience program (ECE).
The Early College Experience, one of the first concurrent enrollment programs in the world, is committed to providing access to and preparation for post-secondary education programs through its ability to offer University of Connecticut courses to high school students in their high schools. ECE is committed to excellence in education by fostering a relationship between higher education and partner high schools to create an effective transition for students who have made college a goal.
Professor Alpert began his association with the ECE program in Economics in 2002 with two instructors participating at two Connecticut high schools. By April 2018 Economics fielded 30 economics (Principles Microeconomics, Principles Macroeconomics and Essentials of Economics) with classes in more than 30 schools with well over 30 teachers certified as ECE instructors or preceptors in Economics.
In presenting the award, Professor Recchio (English) noted Professor Alpert’s distinguished publication record, saying it represented the Early College Experience Program’s dedication to serious scholarship.
In a recent workshop for nineteen University of Connecticut Early College Experience Instructors, Professors Mike Shor, Steve Lanza, Delia Furtado and Bill Alpert presented the principles instructors with current economic thinking concerning game theory, the law and economics, effects of immigration on the domestic labor market, and monetary/macroeconomics for principles level students.
The Early College Experience (ECE) program is a concurrent enrollment program that allows motivated high school students to take UConn courses at their high schools for both high school and college credit. Every course taken through UConn ECE is equivalent to the same course at the University of Connecticut. Students benefit by taking college courses in a setting that is both familiar and conducive to learning. High school instructors who have been certified through the University of Connecticut serve as adjunct faculty members and teach UConn ECE courses.
Established in 1955, UConn Early College Experience is the nation’s longest running concurrent enrollment program and is accredited by The National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships. In the last decade, the Economics Program has grown from two instructors in two Connecticut high schools to almost 40 instructors in 30 Connecticut high schools offering the Principles of Economics classes and Economics 1000.
The work of University of Connecticut Professors William Alpert, Kenneth Couch, and Oskar Harmon, entitled “A Randomized Assessment of Online Learning”, appears in the May issue of the American Economic Review. The paper was selected for inclusion in the Papers and Proceedings issue after being submitted in response to a national call for papers on economic education.
The study provides the fourth randomized examination of online versus face-to-face education ever conducted for a semester length college course. In this case, the course studied was microeconomic principles. The study shows that students in a face-to-face course did about half a letter grade better than students in a purely online course developed consistent with best practices for online education. The study finds that there are no meaningful differences in performance when comparing students in a course with a blended versus face-to-face format.
Four UConn Economics Alumni participated in a panel on the topic ‘Jobs and Careers’ at the UConn Stamford Campus, March 30, 2016.
The event was attended by 35 economics majors.
The participating alumni: Vitalie Alexandru ’13 (CLAS), currently Financial Analyst – Stress Testing, People’s United Bank; Michael Alpert ’90 (CLAS) Portfolio Manager, Stralem & Company; Pedro DeAbreu ’15 (CLAS) Gartner , Inc.; and Marketing Specialist; and Charles Triano ’87 (CLAS) Senior Vice President, Investor Relations, Pfizer, Inc.
All panelists graduated with a major in Economics, two from the Storrs Campus, and two from the Stamford Campus. All were generous with their time, advice regarding courses and participation in college life, and praise for the quality of the UConn undergraduate experience.
Matt Fraulino, CLAS Assistant Director of Alumni Relations Alumni Relations, provided invaluable assistance in organizing the event. The event was co sponsored by: UConn CLAS Alumni Relations, UConn Foundation, and the UConn Stamford Economics Club.
ECE is a concurrent enrollment program that allows motivated high school students to take UConn courses at their high schools for both high school and college credit. Every course taken through UConn ECE is equivalent to the same course at the University of Connecticut. High school instructors who have been certified through the University of Connecticut serve as adjunct faculty members and teach UConn ECE courses.
Since about 29% of UConn ECE students continue on to the University of Connecticut, the Research & Development team is able to track their progress. UConn ECE students are more likely to graduate on time and to hold higher first and second semester GPA’s than those students who did not participate in the program.
The Department of Economics has participated in the ECE program since the early 1990s with a small number of instructors (two in 2006). Today that number has grown to 35 certified Economics instructors offering all of the principals classes to students in 25 high schools across the state. The Economics ECE coordinator is Professor William Alpert.
Professors Harmon and Alpert presented two papers at the Southern Economic Association meetings in November.
Harmon presented their paper with Robert Szarka, “Using Google Apps in Economics Courses” and Alpert presented their paper “Who Takes Online Courses at Public Universities?”
Harmon and Alpert also organized two sessions and discussed papers at two sessions. As a capstone Harmon organized and Professor Harmon chaired a panel discussion entitled Labor Market Transitions in the Great Recession featuring Professor Kenneth Couch and including Dr. Robert K Triest, of the Federal Reserve of Boston.
The UConn Economics Department was well represented by faculty and graduate students attending the annual Conference of the Southern Economics Association held in New Orleans at the beginning of the Thanksgiving break. Those in attendance included Jorge Agüero, Ken Couch, David Simon, William Alpert, Matt Ross, Tao Song, Ling Huang, and Oskar Harmon.