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Heterodox Economics survey

Heterodox Economics survey






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    Heterodox Economics survey Heterodox Economics survey Presentation Transcript

    • Assessing the effectiveness of heterodox economics concepts in developing understanding of real world issues* Andrew Mearman, University of the West of England & Tim Wakeley, Griffith University, Australia DEE conference, Cambridge, 6-7 September 2007 *Economics Network funded mini-project
    • Aim of the research To find out if heterodox economics generates understanding of economic issues Problem How to find out? RCE? Without asking leading questions…? Our (imperfect) solution Mixed methods methodology: Survey (via internet questionnaire) economics students + focus group interviews appeal to lecturers via known networks – EN, RES, AHE & SHE Heterodox economics concepts Why? Many ‘heterodox’ economists claim (often because of its realism) heterodox economics should be in the syllabus; others argue it can be confusing. There is a paucity of data either way.
    • Heterodox Economics concepts What is heterodox economics? adjunct to the usual mainstream syllabus including behavioural economics, evolutionary economics, Marxist economics, etc... ‘ pluralist approach’ (?) Problematic concept Solution: avoid use of ‘heterodox’ or other paradigm identifiers wherever possible
    • Heterodox economics concepts The survey tool
      • An internet based questionnaire ( www.survey. bris .ac. uk )
      • Questions about background, experience, and attitudes to economics
      • 5 point (+ ‘non-applicable’ response) Likert scale used to gather data on attitudes - of particular interest here are:
      ‘ I find studying economics to be relatively easy’ ‘ I find economics to be frustrating’ ‘ I find economics confusing’ ‘ My recent economics unit(s) has (have) helped me understand the world better than did other economics units I have previously studied’ Might allow us to infer if pluralist approaches lead to frustration &/or confusion where the student has a background in economics allows us to infer if the subsequent introduction of heterodox elements leads to a perception of added value
    • I find studying Economics to be relatively easy Illustrative Results so Far
    • I find studying Economics to be frustrating 71.56% of respondents are neutral or disagree (with varying degrees of strength). Illustrative Results so Far
    • I find Economics confusing 78.40% of respondents are neutral or disagree (with varying degrees of strength) – either economics is generally clear to students; or inclusion of heterodox economics in the syllabus is not necessarily a factor which gives rise to confusion for many. Illustrative Results so Far
    • My recent Economics unit(s) has (have) helped me understand the world better than did other Economics units I have previously studied (Filtered Responses [‘Yes’ to Q12 – Studied Economics Before ?]: 561) Illustrative Results so Far
      • Future data analysis:
        • comparison of perceptions responses (Q15) with biographical information
        • collation and analysis of open responses on key concepts (Q16) and missing topics (Q17)
        • use responses to Q16 and Q17 to inform remaining focus groups
        • triangulate with focus group responses
        • description of complex environment
      • Problems:
        • sample composition is highly uncertain and difficult to ascertain; must assume is biased: but how?
        • non-parametric data limits scope for quantitative analysis
      Heterodox economics concepts
    • Heterodox economics concepts
      • Focus groups :
      • Process:
        • students known to have encountered ‘heterodox’ material
        • 3-8 members (plus facilitator: me or Tim Wakeley)
        • 90 minutes approx. in duration
        • address single question: ‘how effective is economics in creating understanding….?’; unstructured thereafter
        • option open to discuss areas pertinent to heterodox concepts e.g. consumer decisions; persuasion versus consumer sovereign
        • employ gap analysis (proving difficult)
        • unpredictable process - rich data
    • Heterodox economics concepts
      • Focus groups :
      • Initial findings:
        • wide range of topics discussed
        • students taught perspectives happy with ambiguity
        • students often react against excessive abstractness
      • Key useful heterodox (?) concepts:
        • - needs (versus wants)
        • happiness
        • innovation
        • ethics
        • sustainability