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).”
Scheduling factors such as a visiting team playing a game back-to-back against a rested home team can affect the win probability of the teams for that game and potentially affect teams unevenly throughout the season. This study examines schedule inequity in the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the seasons 2000–01 through 2018–19. By schedule inequity, we mean the effect of a comprehensive set of schedule factors, other than opponents, on team success and how much these effects differ across teams. We use a logistic regression model and Monte Carlo simulations to identify schedule factor variables that influence the probability of the home team winning in each game (the teams playing are control variables) and construct schedule inequity measures. We evaluate these measures for each NBA season, trends in the measures over time, and the potential effectiveness of broad prescriptive approaches to reduce schedule inequity. We find that, although schedule equity has improved over time, schedule differences disproportionately affect team success measures. Moreover, we find that balancing the frequency of schedule variables across teams is a more effective method of mitigating schedule inequity than reducing the total frequency, although combining both methods is the most effective strategy.
Tyler Terbrusch (MSQE December 2018) and John Rolfe (MSQE December 2019) participated in a virtual MSQE Alumni Networking Panel on September 7, 2022.
Tyler currently works at McLagan Data & Analytics, as a Consultant. John currently works at Spreetail as a Senior Demand Planner. They spoke highly of their MSQE training in Python, R, and Economic Theory, and gave several examples of how they use these skills in their current positions. They recommended applying early and often for summer internships.
Professor Oskar Harmon’s paper “Are Online Exams an Invitation to Cheat?”, co-authored with Dr. Lambrinos, is the 2nd most cited article of all time in the Journal of Economic Education, considering all articles published in the journal.
Abstract: In this study, the authors use data from two online courses in principles of economics to estimate a model that predicts exam scores from independent variables of student characteristics. In one course, the final exam was proctored, and in the other course, the final exam was not proctored. In both courses, the first three exams were unproctored. If no cheating took place, the authors expected the prediction model to have the same explanatory power for all exams, and, conversely, if cheating occurred in the unproctored exam, the explanatory power would be lower. Their findings are that both across and within class, variations in the R-squared statistic suggest that cheating was taking place when the exams were not proctored.
Griffin O’Neill, a senior with a double major in Economics and Geography, presented a poster visualizing data on the topic of National Football League (NFL) Attendance and Anthem Protests in 2016.
Using the ArcGIS, software, Griffin plotted a base map representing the Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area (SMSA) of each NFL stadium and the change in home game attendance between the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Then in separate maps he overlaid on the base map the number of player anthem protests for each team, the number of police shootings of unarmed black men in the SMSA of the home team, and voting results in the 2016 Presidential election in the counties comprising the SMSA of the home team.
The poster was part of an independent study project conducted with Prof. Oskar Harmon.
Professor Oskar Harmon has been awarded the 2022 Teaching Excellence: Career Award from the UConn-AAUP, one of only two recipients in the university. The recipients were chosen by the UConn-AAUP Excellence Awards Committee from a pool of excellent candidates.
The recognition of faculty teaching, research, and service excellence through UConn-AAUP awards began in 1997. The intention of the awards is to showcase academic excellence at UConn.
A virtual ZOOM ceremony to honor Professor Harmon, and other UConn-AAUP award recipients, will take place on Monday, April 25th at 12:00 noon. Any and all who wish to attend are welcome, and are asked to email Barbara Kratochvil to receive the ZOOM link.
Launched in June 2020, the National Association of Business Economists (NABE) Scholars program expands on current NABE Foundation scholarship programs by providing scholarships to NABE conferences specifically to minority students and early-career economists to attend NABE conferences and events.
Alex recently graduated from UConn, earning his Master of Science in Quantitative Economics (MSQE) in December of 2021. We recently spoke with Alex to hear his reflections on the benefits of the program, his experience with the NABE conferences, and his advice for current (and potential) students.
We asked him: Why did you choose UConn?
“In high school, two of my most influential teachers were UConn Alumni. They encouraged me to check out UConn’s programs, and I knew I wanted to attend somewhere on the East Coast (having lived in Texas, California and China). I attended first as an undergrad, then decided to continue with MSQE program.”
Alex feels the MSQE program prepared him well, equipping him with tangible skills that he will be using regularly: Practice in coding with Python, R, and Stata; working with machine learning models; prediction models; and convex optimization. He credits Professor Oskar Harmon’s Writing and Communication for Economics and Business class, as well as UConn’s Career Center, for preparing him for the dozens of interviews he has been going on as he enters the job market. “The MSQE program prepared me well for the technical questions, and the Career Center helped prepare me for the behavioral questions.”
Through the NABE Scholarship program, Alex was able to attend conferences in Washington D.C. that allowed him attend discussions with representatives from top companies on pressing current issues such as the supply chain, and the future of transportation. He enjoyed the opportunity to meet in-person, and make connections with leaders in the industry. “I realize how important networking is, as well as the importance of constant learning.”
Alex encourages current and potential students to use the resources UConn provides and to never stop practicing to keep your skills sharp. He intends to take the CBE exam in the coming months, and looks forward to taking the next steps in his career.
Check out these scholarship opportunities and more by visiting the NABE website here, and thank you Alex Gu for your enthusiasm and insight.
The 2022 NABE Scholar application process will open in late March/early April – stay tuned for details!
UConn students who are awarded a scholarship to attend a NABE event can apply to the MSQE Scholarship Program (contact Lisa Foss for details) to partially offset travel and lodging costs.
MSQE Program alumni Claudia Rodriguez (MSQE December 2019) and Jonathan Gonzalez (MSQE December 2019) participated in a virtual MSQE Alumni Networking Panel on April 29th.
Claudia currently works at Moody’s Investor Service, as a Structured Finance Associate Analyst, where she works on the Commercial Mortgage-Backed Securities team, and the Collateralized Loan Obligations team.
Jonathan currently works for a Connecticut Non-Profit advocacy group. He is currently providing data analytics research support for advocacy of Connecticut Senate Bill 842 An Act Concerning Health Insurance and Health Care in Connecticut.
They spoke highly of their MSQE training in Python, and R, the value of networking and recommended applying for summer internships. In conversation about deadlines, it was mentioned that in industry meeting deadlines is crucial, not like class deadlines where professors’ give extensions.
Professor Oskar Harmon has been named a University Teaching Fellow by the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning:
The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning University Teaching Awards are held annually to honor faculty and graduate students who show exemplary commitment to their teaching craft. The winners of these awards are leaders in their disciplinary pedagogy, innovation, and have an unequaled focus on student success.
The recipients who win this award are representative of exemplary practice and service to the university. Their commitment to teaching, demonstrated knowledge of pedagogy, and an interest in fostering innovative teaching practices is unparalleled. This award identifies recognition of excellence in and out of the classroom by students, peers, and administrators.
Oskar Harmon is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics. He has taught at the university since 1994 and among many accolades, was the first faculty member to offer the “Principles of Economics” course in an online format in 2004. More information on Dr. Harmon can be found here.
Information about the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, and the award, may be found online at:
Two alumni of the MSQE Program participated in a virtual MSQE Alumni Networking Panel on March 18th:
Louis Booth: MSQE Dec 2018
John Rolfe: MSQE Dec 2019
Louis currently works at Travelers, as a Consultant Analytics and Research Development, where he is on the Advanced Tools and Technologies Team. John currently works at Spreetail as a Demand Planner where he does demand forecasting.
They spoke highly of their MSQE training in Python, R, and Tableau, and gave several examples of how they use these skills in their current positions.