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The Dog ATE my Economics Homework! Estimates of the Average Effect of Treating Hawaii’s Public High School Students with Economics

University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Economics, Working Papers 01/2010;
Source: RePEc

ABSTRACT Hawaii is one of 27 states that do not require testing of public high school students regarding their understanding of economics. We report results for the first economics test administered to a large sample of students in Hawaii public high schools during the Spring 2004 semester. Our analysis focuses on evaluating the impact of a semester-long course in economics on student scores on a 20-question, multiple-choice economics test. We specify and estimate a regression analysis of exam scores that controls for other factors that could influence student performance on the exam. While student scores on the economics exam are relatively low, completion of an economics course and participation in a stock market simulation game each add about one point to student scores.

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    ABSTRACT: Economics instruction in U.S. high schools is basically delivered in two ways. About half of high-school students take a required or elective course in economics, according to transcript data. The great majority of these students (about 95 percent) enroll in a regular course that focuses on basic economic concepts with applications. The remaining small percentage of students take a college-oriented course that is often called “honors” or Advanced Placement (AP) economics. Economics instruction for the other half of high-school students, if it is provided at all, is typically delivered in the context of other courses in the high-school curriculum in what is sometimes called the “infusion” or “integrative” approach. These courses would most likely be required courses taught in the social studies, such as U.S. history or American government, or in elective courses taught in business education. This study investigates what high-school students know about basic economics given the different types of economics instruction. The primary focus is on the achievement of students who complete a basic course in high school economics. These results are important because they supply insights into what high school students who have received direct instruction in economics know about the subject. For comparison purposes, the achievement of students who have not taken a formal course in economics will be investigated to identify what they know about economics. The comparison of those students with and without instruction in a separate course in economics gives the best estimate of the importance of direct instruction in economics to the economic understanding of most high-school graduates. In addition, similar comparisons between those students with and without direct instruction in economics will be made for two groups of higher-ability students: those who enroll in honors or AP courses in economics and those who enroll in such courses for other social-studies subjects.
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    American Economic Review 02/2008; 98(2):541-46. · 2.69 Impact Factor
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May 27, 2014