Economics Requirements at CNU and How to Improve Them

luterbusiness

To: Christopher Newport University

From: Hunter M. Langdon

Subject: Evaluation and Recommendations for Economic Requirements

Date: 5/18/2015

The purpose of this research is to present findings and recommendations for the current economic requirements in place at Christopher Newport University. The goal is to find what current CNU students thought and any recommendations they had.

Summary

Current findings have proven to be very insightful and rewarding. Out of the current responses majority believed that the current requirement was reasonable, but majority have stated that it is unreasonable to require two semesters of economic classes. Some even believe there should be some options to opt out of this requirement such as a test or AP credits transferred in from high school.

Discussion

As of the 2014-2015 school year CNU implemented a requirement that added a minimum of 3 credit hours of an economic class (200, 201, or 202) to their Liberal Learning Core. Students who enrolled into CNU prior to the 2014-2015 school year are exempt from this requirement.

Currently, those who have participated in the survey are students that have entered into CNU before they started this new requirement, and aren’t required to fulfill it; therefore a majority of them have yet to take an economics class. These students cover a variety of majors and span all four years of college. When they were asked if they knew about this requirement, it was a 50/50 split. When asked, the students thought that there should be a test to opt out of this requirement. The students state a good point, yet do the students posses enough basic knowledge on the topic of economics to pass a test that allows them to opt out, or for AP economic credits to transfer in from high school.

Personally being an economics major, I believe that this requirement is a smart move, but I also believe that it wouldn’t hurt to increase the requirement to two semesters. Yes, it may not benefit certain people in their fields of study, but it will increase their knowledge of economics. What the students do with this knowledge of the economy is up to them, but I believe that it might help stimulate the economy in the long run or it could just as easily destroy it.

Recommendation

I would like to talk to you more one on one about this requirement, at a later date. Currently in my opinion the requirement should not change, as it was recently created, but it might benefit from some tweaking at a later time.

Abstract

Prepared by: Hunter M. Langdon

The purpose of this report is to gage the thoughts and feelings about the new economic requirement that Christopher Newport University implemented in fall 2014. This new requirement added a section called Liberal Learning Foundation Economic Modeling and Analysis, having to select a class from the following: “The Economic Way of Thinking”, “Principles of Macroeconomics”, and “Principles of Microeconomics”. The already existing liberal learning foundation that required up till now only thirty seven credit hours. The new requirement has added three more credit hours making the liberal learning foundation a total of forty credit hours.

Through a conducted survey students were asked questions regarding to how they feel about the requirement. Majority of the students fell into the category of students that entered into CNU before the requirement started and do not have to fulfil it. After analyzing a few responses it’s a mix of feelings regarding if the requirement is reasonable or not, and if CNU should increase the requirement to a minimum of six credit hours. Many believed that there should be an opt out option with that option being a test or AP credits transferred in from high school. After analyzing all of the responses, the current requirement is more than enough but an opt out option should be instated.

Key words: Economics, CNU, requirement, students

Introduction

In the fall of 2014 Christopher Newport University began to require students to complete a requirement of a minimum of three credit hours of an economic class. They select a class from one of the following classes: “The Economic Way of Thinking”, “Principles of Macroeconomics”, and “Principles of Microeconomics”. This requirement fell underneath the school’s liberal learning foundation. Students who entered into CNU as freshman or transfer students in the fall of 2014 were the first to have this requirement placed upon them. Students have mixed feelings and thoughts about this new requirement. A survey was conducted to collect some of their thoughts; the survey gathered roughly eighty eight responses.

Huffington Post did a report on how many “modern liberal arts” colleges required their students to take an economic class, finding that only 3.3% did. Their findings were posted in an article that was published on October 15th, 2014. They also made note about CNU and their requirements.

“Yet it praises colleges like Regent University and Bluefield College for earning an A grade from ACTA, while noting Christopher Newport University is the “first public university in the nation to meet (and exceed) all seven of the What Will They Learn? core requirements.””

Yet while CNU may be the “first public university” to have exceeded in the nation to have this requirement many of their own students do not particularly care for it. Many of them feel like it takes time away from their fields of study and feel like it will not benefit them either now or in the future.  Though the results may be a little skewed as many of the participants entered into CNU prior to this requirement and do not have to fulfil it.

While researching what the students believe about the current requirement the researcher took a look into three other questions. One being “Do you believe that CNU should require two semesters of economic classes?”, if they thought the idea of an opt out option, that would be taking a test, and their preferred method for taking an economics class.

Through this survey, this report took those thoughts and recommendations and has put them into a report so that CNU may review what a small handful of students think about their new requirement. CNU can take this report and apply it however they see fit.

The following will show theory, method, and data visualization of the survey and of my findings and conclusions.

Theory

This study looked at over eighty students, which spanned over all majors, and years, that attend Christopher Newport University currently and what their beliefs were about this topic. A phenomenology approach was taken on this investigation, finding that it covers both of the two types of phenomenology, hermeneutic and transcendental. The researcher had to put aside their own thoughts and opinions for the duration of the study, even though the researcher found the topic very appealing to them. Through the questions it showed that students told of their experiences with an economic class, if they had already taken one, while others simply stated their thoughts about taking an economics class.

Phenomenology requires the researcher to withhold judgement until a significant amount of data has been collected. It also requires them to really break down data, highlight and analyze it allowing them to write a textual description. Through looking into this type of theory approach it showed that it was the best theory approach to see how students thought about this requirement as it was able to be conducted from afar and the researcher was able to find a report done by the Huffington Post that mentioned CNU.

Method

The survey contained ten questions. The first two questions asked background information: “What is your year?” and “What is your major?”. The following four questions were designed to gage what the students knew about the requirement and their thoughts about it, “Are you aware that CNU now requires students to have at least one semester of Economics?”, “Are you required to take an Economics class because of this?”, “Do you believe that this is a reasonable requirement? Why or why not?”, and “Have you gained any basic knowledge about economics, from taking the class, that you have applied to daily activities?”. The next two questions asked if the requirement should be changed and any opinions about it, “Do you believe that CNU should require at least TWO economics classes?” and “In your opinion, will it benefit students to take two semesters of economic classes?”. The last two questions were geared towards any changes that might improve the requirement, “What would be your preferred method for taking these classes?” and “Do you believe there should be a test to opt out of this requirement?”.

The researcher distributed the survey through a social media website, Facebook. Through Facebook they were able to reach all four current years of students at CNU, as the students are currently on summer vacation. With many students busy with summer jobs, vacations, or various other activities the researcher was ecstatic to have collected over eighty responses, having only expected to receive roughly forty five responses.

Analysis

The responses to this study were both surprising and not. Responses to yes/no questions were as expected, but the free responses questions that asked the students’ opinions were more interesting. In those questions the researcher was shocked to find that some people thought that economic classes would and should teach one to balance a check book or do taxes. Yet the economic classes Christopher Newport University offers teaches students about the economy, supply and demand, economic theory at an introductory level. The class that few of these students are asking for would be the equivalent of a high school home economics class or that of a personal finance class. Many of the students do believe that the current requirement of a minimum of three credit hours is sufficient enough and that anything more than that will hurt them. Students believed that some may not do well in the class since they will be “forced” to take the class, while others believed that it will cause more problems when scheduling classes. One student even stated, “No, it takes away from a class we should be taking for our major. This is especially bad for those with science majors who already struggle to get into half the classes they need to graduate.”.

Seventy six percent of students thought that CNU should offer an opt out option, that option being a test. The students would be required to complete the test and receive a passing score, set by the school, and then receive an email or letter stating that they have successfully or unsuccessfully tested out of the requirement. If a student would have failed the opt out test, then the student would have to take an economic class of their choosing from the list provided by the school. The current list of classes that CNU offers to fulfil the requirement are: Econ 200, Econ 201, and Econ 202.

Over all the results of this investigation have proven to be successful to gage the students response to the current requirement and if CNU were to change it to two semesters. The students that participated in this survey have opened the researchers eyes into how some people really feel about economic requirements at a college level, and how they would be benefiting from it.

Data Visualization

Participants were freshman, sophomores, juniors, and seniors at CNU. Many of the participants were seniors and seniors do not have to meet this requirement as they entered CNU prior to Fall 2014.

The students cover all fields of academic study offered at CNU, (Arts & Humanities, Natural & Behavioral Sciences, Social Sciences, and the Luter School of Business). Majority of the students who participated in the survey were studying in the Natural & Behavioral Sciences, (mathematics, molecular biology & chemistry, organismal & environmental biology, physics, computer science, engineering, psychology).

A few responses from “is this requirement reasonable?”

“Yes, because I honestly wish I was required to take one so that I know more about the world. However, I also believe that everybody should be required to take an environmental science class.”

“No, I took it this past semester and it was a seriously hard class. It wasn’t particularly informative on ways to handle money on a day to day life, which is the only reason I can think of as to why they would require it.”

A few responses from “should they require two economic classes?”

“Definitely not. If student’s want a second, let it be their choice. What can students get out of a class they are only forced to take?”

“Diminishing returns become apparent but taking micro and macro would be helpful. They should have a class which covers both though.”

Works Cited

Christopher Newport University Undergraduate Catalog 2013-2014

Christopher Newport University Undergraduate Catalog 2014-2015

Kingkade, Tyler. “Only 3 Percent Of Colleges Require Students To Take An Econmics Class: Report.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 15 Oct. 2014. Web. 23 May 2015.

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