Oskar Harmon and Paul Tomolonis (UConn PhD 2017) have co-authored the article “Learning Tableau – A data visualization tool”, published in the Journal of Economic Education.
ABSTRACT: “Doing economics” is an important theme of undergraduate economics programs. Capstone courses increasingly include instruction in “data literacy” and the STEM-related skills of quantitative and empirical methods. Because the professional discipline has moved in this direction and because of greater employer demand for these skills, data visualization is a key component of data literacy. Tableau is a free data visualization software widely used in the data analytics industry. In this article, the authors introduce an exercise that teaches the fundamental Tableau concepts and commands needed to create charts, assemble them in a dashboard, and tell a story of patterns observed in the data. The exercise assumes no prior experience in Tableau and is appropriate for undergraduate upper-level economics courses or an empirical methods course.
“Using the skills he was learning in Prof. Oskar Harmon’s Writing and Communication for Economics and Business graduate course, Jiang began assembling the COVID-19 Connecticut Data Visualization website, where he daily charts the pandemic’s course both here in Connecticut and across the country.”
The Social Science Research Network (SSRN), a platform for dissemination of early-stage research, recently announced their all-time top ten downloaded papers in the topic Data Visualization. Oskar Harmon’s paper “Learning Tableau: A Data Visualization Tool” with Steven Batt, and Paul Tomolonis was among that list.
“Doing economics” and “data literacy” are becoming important themes of undergraduate economics programs. This paper introduces an exercise that teaches the fundamental Tableau concepts and commands needed to create charts, assemble them in a dashboard, and tell a story of patterns observed in the data. The exercise assumes no prior experience in Tableau and is appropriate for an undergraduate economics capstone course or an empirical methods course.
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 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.
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.