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You may choose to purchase either of two sets of textbooks:
This course preview outlines the details of this online course. For more information on taking this course, please send an e-mail message to our support staff at email@example.com. UW offices are closed on these holidays.
The aim of this course is to enable you to understand the basic concepts of macroeconomics. While it is not expected that most of you will go on to make decisions of macroeconomic importance, becoming prepared to make such decisions is nevertheless a valuable goal. Too often we are subject to faulty macroeconomic analysis by leaders who mistakenly believe they know what they are doing. Sadly, an ill-informed press and electorate often fail to challenge leaders' assumptions, knowledge, and intentions, and we are lead astray.
It is my hope that this course will enable you to separate reasonable economic analysis from popular hucksterism as you watch the evening news or flip through your favorite periodical. It is my ultimate goal that you will regularly wake up screaming in anger about some bit of particularly faulty analysis thrown forth by an important political figure.
Course Goals and Objectives
By the end of this course you should be able to
This course provides an introduction to macroeconomics. We will be dealing with three major theories to explain macroeconomic growth and decline: the classical "quantity" theory, the Keynesian model and monetarism. (As interesting as its rise and fall may be, this course will not deal with communism.) The classical theory developed in response to the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and dates back to the eighteenth century, beginning with the work of Adam Smith. Besides communism, which first developed in the nineteenth century, the classical theory was for a century and a half the predominant explanation of economic phenomena, until the Great Depression. John Maynard Keynes developed his theory at this time in an attempt to explain how the Great Depression came about and hopefully prevent its reoccurrence. Monetarism developed in the 1960s, largely from the work of Milton Friedman.
Despite the title Economics Today: The Macro View, the Miller textbook contains six chapters in the beginning, the first of which serves as an introduction to macroeconomics, while the rest primarily discuss microeconomic principles. While an in-depth knowledge of microeconomics is not essential to the study of macroeconomics, a basic understanding of the subject is critical. For this purpose, the first four lessons in Economics 201 mirror the first four lessons in the University of Washington's Online Learning Economics 200 course. It is my way of ensuring that all students have a basic set of economic tools to use throughout the rest of the macroeconomics course.
Following your brief review of microeconomics in Lessons One through Four, the course continues with a discussion of the basic macroeconomic concepts of inflation, unemployment, business cycles, and long-term economic growth (Lessons Five through Seven). Two simple models are introduced to help you understand how these concepts are interrelated and to help explain how the economy may run smoothly—though we have to bear in mind that these are models based on key assumptions. Some basic macroeconomic problems are then discussed (Lessons Eight through Ten). Thereafter, the discussion turns to considering how the government can influence both short-term and long-term economic conditions, and other effects of government interference in the economy (Lessons Eleven and Twelve). We will finish the course by discussing issues of money, its importance, and how best to control macroeconomic problems through manipulation of the money supply (Lessons Thirteen through Fifteen).
Reviewing the Course
In this course introduction, you will get an overview of the essential steps to completing the course and a detailed overview of the course format. Please take time now to review this information carefully. If, when you have finished reading this introduction, you have questions regarding your participation in the course, please consult the list of contacts at UW Educational Outreach provided in the Online Student Handbook. Both I and the staff at UW Distance Learning are eager to assist you in any way in order to make this course as satisfying and rewarding as possible.
About the Online Environment
Your online course offers several advantages to the traditional classroom, including the comprehensive Online Student Handbook, the ability to communicate electronically with other students and with your instructor, and links to a rich array of UW Library Services.
Online Student Handbook
This handbook answers questions about your online learning course, such as how to purchase your text, schedule an exam, obtain a transcript, and get technical help if you need it. The handbook also provides additional resources, such as how to order books or journals from the library and how to study for an online course.
Communicating with Your Instructor and Student Peers
UW Library Services
As an online student, you have access to a wealth of Web resources compiled to provide fast, easy access to information that supports your online learning experience. Organized by subjects, UW Library Services link you to sites with help for writing and research, study skills, language learning, and library reference materials. All links have been assessed for credibility and reliability, and they are regularly monitored to ensure their usability.
The course includes fifteen lessons organized into five units. Each lesson has four parts:
Units Three and Seven are preparation exam lessons. They will provide you with guidelines and tips for the exams along with complete practice exams so you can assess your readiness for taking the actual exam.
You may choose to purchase either of two sets of textbooks:
Note that you have two options for text choice. Each has the same chapter and page numbering, but the full text also includes chapters pertaining to microeconomics, which are omitted from the Macro versions. If you have copies of the full versions from Econ 200, please feel free to use them. Note that the study guide is not available in a full version; the "Micro View" and "Macro View" must be purchased separately.
Overall, online learning students have responded favorably to the Miller text. I have selected this text because the author centers on the basics of economic theory. Rather than filling the pages with all the theoretical nuances of microeconomics, he has presented the core concepts in a simple fashion. These concepts are illustrated with real-world examples that I hope will interest you and convince you of the relevance and applicability of the material.
The "Quick Quiz" section in each chapter of Miller focuses on the most important ideas of the chapter, and describes how the chapter fits into the overall course. There is also a "What You Should Know" at the end of each Miller chapter, and several helpful summaries and exercises in the Study Guide.
Miller provides a "Did You Know That" at the beginning of each chapter. These insights offer perspective and relevance to the topics discussed in the chapter. The author also offers a section titled "Issues and Applications" based on current economic issues in an attempt to tie the concepts of the chapter into the lives of students.
In addition to providing more depth and breadth, the supplementary texts offer you an alternative presentation of the same material.
I have made the Study Guide a requirement because it provides additional opportunities for you to practice what you will learn in this course.
The Samuelson text is a classic textbook that may help you to narrow your search or be more selective. Additionally, the Yates text offers an alternative to the neoclassical text used in 98% of undergraduate principles of economics texts. These books may be available from your local library or a new or used bookstore.
The course organization follows that of the textbook, covering chapters 1–4 and 7–17. The material is divided into fifteen lessons, as follows:
Assignments and Exams
There are five written assignments, a midterm, and a final examination, for a total of seven graded course components.
Each written assignment is worth ten points, and together they constitute 25 percent of your final grade. Points will be assigned on the basis of the accuracy and completeness of your answer. You must show all work, and all graphs must be carefully labeled. Each written assignment consists of five essay questions. Answers to each question should be approximately half a page.
Your midterm examination consists of multiple-choice, true/false, short-answer, and problem sections worth a total of 50 points, representing 25 percent of your grade. Partial credit on some questions is possible, but only if you show all your work and your answers are legible. The format of the final exam is similar to the midterm, except that each section is comprehensive; the exam is worth a total of 100 points, representing 50 percent of the course grade.
You can earn a total of 200 points, distributed as shown in table i.1 below.
Table i.1—Point Distribution
Unit Four includes a practice exam for the midterm, and Unit Seven includes a practice exam for the final. Answer keys for each are provided.
Assignment Submission Guidelines
Each essay question is worth three points.
Graphs and Algebra
Far too often, students get confounded by course material—not because they don't intuitively understand the economic theory, but because they get caught up in the graphs and simple algebra. The graphs we will use in this course are primarily linear (straight lines), but you should also be able to use nonlinear curves. You will be asked to perform some calculations with simple linear functions. This is nothing other than high school math; although a little review may be in order. If you have been away from math for a while, or have a math phobia, an investment of time reviewing these concepts will pay off many times throughout the course. A review of graphing is provided in Appendix A at the end of Chapter 1 of your textbook.
How to Approach Each Lesson
Each lesson begins by assuming you have read the relevant chapter in the textbook and gone through the Study Guide. The first item listed, therefore, is the assigned chapter from the text. You should read the appropriate Miller chapter before working through the rest of these online course materials. The text provides many examples of real problems so you have an opportunity to apply the economic principles being discussed. The text also provides key terms and learning objectives that will help guide your study in this course.
Understanding any discipline requires knowledge of its language. You should learn definitions for all the key terms listed—the key terms in these online course materials are the same as the ones in the textbook. The textbook's key terms are defined in the margins throughout the chapters, listed at the end of each chapter, and re-stated in a glossary at the end of the text. Be aware that although many of the terms, such as efficiency and cost, will seem familiar, they are used in a very precise and specific manner in economic analysis that may differ slightly from your current understanding of the term. I recommend you carefully read and think about each key word, and make sure you are comfortable with its use in economics.
Learning objectives begin each lesson, and brief answers or guidelines to the learning objectives are provided at the end of each lesson. If you write out your understanding of the learning objectives before reading my descriptions, you will see which parts of the material you have grasped and those with which you are still struggling. When you are satisfied that you have a basic understanding of the material covered in the chapter, you are ready to continue.
As you work through each lesson, think about the learning objectives for the content. These online course materials go over in more depth material that I feel is either particularly difficult or often misunderstood. In every course of macroeconomics I have taught the same questions and confusions tend to appear. Some concepts seem particularly problematic. I have tried to anticipate those problems and the most commonly asked questions, and address them in the lessons.
Opportunities to Test Your Understanding
The only way to learn economics is to sit down and put the pencil to the page. Only by actually working out problems will you be able to realistically assess your understanding of the principles.
Therefore, each lesson includes Knowledge Checks as well as problems and questions from the text and the Study Guide.
Throughout the commentary for each lesson, I have added some Knowledge Checks that are more representative of assignment and exam problems than those in the textbook or the Study Guide. Further, these will help you assess whether you are meeting the learning objectives. You should spend some time on these problems, as they will help you to internalize the material. The Knowledge Checks appear near the material from which they arise.
Answers are provided, but they will only help you if you work through each problem before checking your answer. Write down your answers for the questions in each lesson; if you have made a mistake in your reasoning, you can see where you have made it. Keeping a record of your answers will also help you when you are reviewing the material for exams and assignments. If you have difficulty, re-read the relevant sections in the textbook and working through some more problems. Supplementary resources are also suggested, where applicable. Many of these resources can be found on the Internet; use them.
Problems and Questions
Each lesson also directs you to "Problems and Questions" at the end of each chapter in Miller, and most or all of the chapter questions from the Study Guide. You will not submit these questions and problems for grading, but a selection of them will appear on the midterm and final examination. If you don't work them out in advance, you will be at a disadvantage. If you do work them out, however, even if the numbers change, the methodology will be familiar. Write out your answers to these questions, then check your answers. Re-read sections of the Miller chapter if necessary to help you fully understand the answers. Keep your corrected answers in your notebook for review and reference. If you have made any errors, read through the explanation given and review that section once more in Miller. After completing each lesson, go back to any questions you missed in the previous lesson and make sure you can answer before proceeding.
The Study Guide contains five kinds of questions to accompany each chapter of Miller: completion questions, true/false questions, multiple choice, matching, and quantitative problems. A good strategy for the multiple choice and true/false questions is to first thoroughly review the Miller chapter. Then answer the questions in the Study Guide without looking at the text. Before checking your answers against those given, work through the questions a second time, this time verifying your answers by referring directly back to the Miller chapter. This will reinforce your mastery and allow you to discover your errors. Finally, after doing this, check your answers against the ones provided. Answers to the questions from the Study Guide are given at the end of each chapter in that study guide.
Other Opportunities to Test Your Understanding
To increase your learning, work on each chapter's "Issues and Applications" problems and "Questions for Critical Analysis." Although none of these are required, more practice is always better for your understanding of economics. You should make certain that you are confident of your ability to answer these questions.
How to Succeed in This Course
I have never known a student who passed introductory economics without working through the questions and problems. Studying economics requires far more than memorizing terminology and retracing graphs. Exams presume you know definitions and can apply them analytically to work through problems. Studying the principles of economics without working through questions is analogous to reading a calculus text without doing problems: you can't appreciate the working of the theory. So it is essential that you carefully complete the knowledge checks, questions, and problems. Until you wrestle with these exercises, you will not know how well you have grasped the principles. This is the best method for you to test your own understanding of the material, and it is how most instructors will test your understanding. The goal is to learn an economic way of thinking and an analytical approach to problem solving. Studying the textbook can provide a framework within which this analysis can take place, but it cannot provide the techniques for problem solving. Continued practice answering different questions is the best method for training your mind to think analytically in order to solve economic problems.
Economics is a discipline that builds upon fundamental propositions. It is very important that you adequately grasp each concept before moving on to the next assignment. Again, how you do on the questions and problems is the best test of your mastery of the subject matter.
Finally, once you have carefully worked through the relevant chapters and feel comfortable with the Knowledge Checks, Miller's end-of-chapter questions, and the Study Guide questions and problems, you should try the appropriate practice exam (midterm or final). This gives you one final opportunity to assess your understanding of the material before you write the exam. The practice exam contains a selection of questions from all the chapters (seven chapters for the midterm, fifteen chapters for the comprehensive final), in the same format and of approximately the same length as the real exam. You can simulate the exam conditions (that is, within the allowed time and with no supporting materials except for a calculator), and then evaluate yourself with the answer key provided. After reviewing any problem areas, you should be ready for your exam. Relax and think of it as an opportunity to communicate everything you have learned.
A Message to You
This system is designed to allow you to teach yourself economics. All you need do is apply yourself and follow the directions. Economics is not easy, but it can be mastered with effort. When you successfully finish this course, you will not only grasp the principles of economics, but you also will have demonstrated that you can learn, and that you can learn by yourself. After all, life is a continual process of learning. In that process each of us has to rely on one main teacher—ourselves.
In formatting this course to follow macro courses at the University of Washington, I have not assigned every chapter in Miller. There are excellent discussions in the unassigned chapters, although they are not compulsory. One goal of this course is to induce you to study economics further, and you are encouraged to browse through the table of contents for chapters that may interest you.
About the Course Developer
This course was created by Shon Kraley, Ph.D. and revised by Robert Richards in December, 2008
Dr. Kraley received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Washington in 2001. His undergraduate degree from Portland State University is also in economics. He began teaching economics at the UW in 1995, and in 1999, he was presented the Langton Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Instruction. Dr. Karley is the head of Economics at Lower Columbia College, and received the faculty of the year award there in 2004.
As an undergraduate math major, Dr Kraley was confronted with a career as a math instructor. His roommate at the time was studying economics and suggested that Kraley give it a try. His first economics course was taught by a grad student; the content was over the instructor's head and the teaching was unapproachable; it was a miserable experience. However, Kraley gave it one more chance and, as luck would have it, he had a wonderful instructor for his second course. The rest, as they say, is history.
Dr. Kraley's professional interests focus on natural resources (particularly coastal resources and energy economics) and industrial organization (the study of competition).
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