Professors Harmon, Smirnova, and PhD Candidate Conant participated in the Ninth Annual AEA Conference on Teaching and Research in Economic Education (CTREE), in St. Louis, Missouri, May 2019.
Professors Oskar Harmon and Natalia Smirnova organized and moderated the panel “The College Fed Challenge: Discussion of Participating in an Existing Competition or Organizing a Competition in your Federal Reserve District”. The panelists were the faculty organizers of the regional Fed Challenge competitions in 4 of the 5 Fed Districts that sponsor a Fed Challenge competition, and the organizer of the finals round at the Fed Board of Governors in Washington DC. The discussion focused on two themes. One was a comparison of the similarities and differences in the structure of the competitions across regions and the effect on team outcomes in the national finals. Second was strategies to the geographic challenges and the difficulties facing the non-eastern states 8 reserve districts, only one of which competes (Chicago) relative to the 4 east coast districts, all of which compete.
Paul Conant and Oskar Harmon presented their paper “Teaching of Sports Economics by Reacting to the Past”. They presented a real-world scenario (RWS) assignment that is an adaptation of the “reacting to the past” teaching style. In this style students learn by taking on roles, informed by articles from the period of the event. They participate in a competitive game using the communication skills of speaking and writing, and analytical skills of critical thinking and problem solving. The specific RWS discussed in this paper will consist of students answering the historical event question: Should college athletes be allowed to unionize? The Case of Northwestern 2014. Students are assigned roles which can force them to combat their preconceived notion about the issue and help students consider different perspectives on the issue. We hope to merge the sociopolitical world with neoclassical economic learning in order to help students understand the nuance of pertinent world issues.
Natalia Smirnova also assumed an active role at the conference. She was a discussant of two papers. One paper presented the use of Excel for teaching students a Health Economics addiction model; and the second paper analyzed the reasons for female students’ attrition from the first Economics course they took and not becoming Economics majors at UC Berkley. Both papers were well received and generated debates among sessions’ participants.
Professor Smirnova extended her stay in St. Louis to explore Team-Based Learning (TBL) techniques. The TBL workshop was sponsored by the NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) initiative. Professor Smirnova is encouraged to bring new techniques into her classroom.
Oskar Harmon and Paul Tomolonis (UConn PhD 2017) co-authored the article “The effects of using Facebook as a discussion forum in an online Principles of Economics course: Results of a randomized controlled trial”
Their paper makes a comparison between using social media or traditional Course Management System (CMS) discussion groups in a fully online Principles of Microeconomics course.
Students were randomly assigned to a discussion forum in either Facebook or CMS to discern a difference in the level of engagement and learning outcomes. The popular hypothesis is that students using social media have greater engagement with the class and higher learning outcomes relative to students using a CMS platform. Reasons for the positive effect include the ease of use and student familiarity with social media, which allows them to make more connections and gain a deeper understanding of the course material through discussions with others.
Contrary to the widely held view, the results of this study suggest that participation in the treatment Facebook group is associated with declining student engagement and a reduction in the semester course average of 3 to 5 points on a 100-point scale.
The article is available at the IREE website
Panel Discussion, Stamford Campus
The annual Alumni Networking Panel, co-organized by Stamford Campus Economics Faculty, CLAS Alumni Relations, and UConn Foundation, was held March 26, 2019.
The panelists, all UConn alumni, shared stories about their UConn education to the contribution to their career paths. Mr. Bianchi (majored in Economics) shared that he arrived as a UConn freshman majoring in pre-med, and his class in Principles of Macroeconomics with Professor Polly Allen forever changed his career path, and the skills learned in the Econometrics course taught by Professor Subhash Ray sparked a lifelong interest in quantitative analysis.
Mr. Regan (majored in Economics) shared that his choice of major was inspired by Professor Derek Johnson’s Principles of Microeconomics course, and the Socratic teaching style in Professor Paul Tomolonis’s course in International Economics.
Ms. Daley, and Ms. Pierre-Louis (Public Policy and Psychology majors) shared that from their courses in statistics and computer programming they developed skills core to their successful career paths. Professor Harmon served as panel moderator.
For more information about the panel click here.
Professors Natalia Smirnova (UConn PhD 2004) and Oskar Harmon organized and participated in the panel “College Fed Challenge: Impact on Students’ Knowledge Acquisition”.
Among the panelists were faculty advisers and team captains from three NY Federal Reserve Region teams, including the captain of the UConn Stamford team, Jonathan Herrick.
For more information about the panel discussion click here.
The UConn-Stamford FED Challenge team earned honorable mention in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York 2018 College FED Challenge competition. This marked the third consecutive year of participation in the competition by the Stamford Campus team and the first time advancing to the semi-final round. The competition started with 39 teams in the initial round on October 24. The UCONN-Stamford team advanced to the semi-final round held on November 14 among only eight teams. Rutgers University-New Brunswick placed first and advanced to the final round held in Washington DC November 29. Columbia University placed second. UConn-Stamford earned Honorable Mention along with Fairfield University, Fordham University, Siena College, and SUNY-Oneonta.
The College Fed Challenge is a team competition for undergraduate students. Teams analyze economic and financial conditions and formulate a monetary policy recommendation, modeling the Federal Open Market Committee. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York is one of four Federal Reserve Banks that host the College Fed Challenge Competition. The regional winners go to the final round at the Board of Governors in Washington D.C.
UCONN-Stamford team was comprised of 3 presenters: Ignacio Gonzalez, Jonathan Herrick, and Brendan Armburst-Mulcahey. The team coach was Di Yang, (Stamford Business School MBA). The researchers who helped prepare the team for the competition were Aditya Dadavai, Sijie Hu, Lingyi Zhu, and Roma Roma (all in the Stamford Business School BPMA Program). Faculty advisors were professors Natalia Smirnova, Steven Lanza, Kanda Naknoi, and Oskar Harmon. The team benefited from practice sessions of challenging questions with volunteer members of the Fairfield Business Community.
The team participants shown in the picture at the awards ceremony at the FRBNY are (from left to right): Brendan Armburst-Mulcahey, Di Yang, Natalia Smirnova, Jonathan Herrick, Ignacio Gonzalez, Oskar Harmon.
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.
At the 2018 Sports and Society Conference Oskar Harmon participated in the panel “Activism in the 21th Century”.
He presented his work on the confluence of patriotism, race, and politics in the 2017 NFL season.
The conference was hosted by the College of Mount Saint Vincent, NY on October 26, 2018.
The conference program is available at:
At the annual meeting of the American Association of University Professors in Washington DC, June 14-15, 2018, Professor Harmon participated in the panel: Taking a Knee, Raising a Fist: Race, Sport, and Politics in Historical Perspective, with Professors Joseph Cooper, Sport Management, and Jeffrey Ogbar, History.
The panel discussed free speech and social protest in sports from the historical, economic and cultural perspective. Professors Ogbar and Cooper looked at the intersection of Sports, Race and Politics traced from the advent of American organized sports in the 1880s to the social protest of Robeson and Ali. Professor Harmon presented results of a study of the effect of anthem protests on NFL gate attendance.
Professor Oskar Harmon and Robert Szarka (Visiting Assistant Professor, SUNY Oneonta) co-authored the article “Using Google Drawings to Create Homework Exercises” that appears as the lead article in issue number 2 (2018) of the Journal of Economics Teaching.
The article shows how Google Drive’s Drawings tool can be used to create homework exercises suitable for both online and face-to-face classes. This approach allows students to create graphs actively “from scratch,” similar to the traditional pencil-and-paper approach, with a minimal investment of time and money. This could be a useful active-learning tool for online, blended, and traditional courses. The tools presented in the article have been adapted by the publisher TopHat in a recently published Principles of Micro/Macro online textbook.
Using Google Drawings to Create Homework Exercises (Harmon & Szarka)
The New York FED is one of five Federal Reserve Banks that host the FED Challenge Competition. The regional winners go to the final round at the FED in Washington D.C. College Fed Challenge is a team competition for undergraduate students. Teams analyze economic and financial conditions and formulate a monetary policy recommendation, modeling the Federal Open Market Committee.
The 5 team participants were:
Front row: Ryan Dodd, Olga Jaramillo; Middle row: Chris McLaughlin (a two time participant), graduate assistants PD Aditya and Gul-e-Rana; Back row: Esteban Peralta, Randall Giles.
The students were assisted in their preparations by Professors Oskar Harmon, Kanda Naknoi and Steven Lanza.
The team received invaluable assistance from three graduate student assistants (PD Aditya , Di Yang, and Gul-e-Rana from the Stamford Business School MBA.