ECON 220 Labor Economics Course Guide
This course explores how labor markets operate and how institutions shape labor market performance and outcomes from a theoretical and empirical perspective. Students will become familiar with the theories and methods used by labor economists and will have the opportunity to apply them to topics of interest and current events. We will also discuss historical and institutional forces that have shaped the modern American workplace and workforce. Topics to be covered include, but are not limited to, labor supply, labor demand, wage determination, human capital, wage inequality, mobility, discrimination, unions, labor discipline, unemployment and bargaining power, unemployment insurance, employment insecurity, and full employment policies.
Assessable Learning Objectives
Recommended Teaching Methodology
The primary objective in teaching this class is to engage students in critical thinking about labor economics, from not only a theoretical perspective, but also from an empirical and applied perspective. The latter approach opens the door to discussions and assignments that deal with policy implications.
The primary method of teaching will likely stress interactive lecture and class discussion. Presentations should clarify and amplify text material, providing students with the opportunity to engage in discussion regarding course topics. Instructors should seek to limit the amount of lecturing in the traditional sense, where text material is repeated in a different format.
Recommended Assessment Measures
Regular assessment serves at least four objectives within this course. First, assessment provides feedback to students on their achievement and shortcomings while a course is underway. Second, assessment may provide an incentive for students to actively engage and study course material. Third, assessment is the process by which student evaluation is quantified for purposes of course grades. Finally, assessment provides feedback to the faculty on student achievement of course objectives. Design of assessment measures for the course should satisfy each of these objectives.
Statement of Expectations
Students should expect that the average weekly workload in this course would be three hours in class plus a minimum of six hours of reading, studying, and assignment preparation. It is expected that students address issues of theory and policy with equal vigor.
The material covered in this course is not easy—economics is inherently difficult, especially in a very competitive environment. Most of the learning that will take place will not happen in the classroom. Students should understand that most learning takes place when they are working on the material outside of class, when they are reading, thinking critically, analyzing, and applying concepts and techniques. The amount that students learn and the level of skill that is developed will be directly related to the amount of effort that is expended. Classes are opportunities to discuss and apply the material, and to develop communication and leadership skills. They are also opportunities for professors to provide insight, to help students attain understanding, and for the evaluation of performance.
Prerequisite Knowledge and Skills
The most important prerequisites are an interest in the subject, a willingness to commit the necessary resources in terms of time and intellectual effort, and a desire to actively participate in the learning process. The formal prerequisite is ECON 101. This course will require a challenging mix of analytic, writing, and oral communication skills. Students should be prepared to deal extensively with the graphs, algebraic concepts, and detailed technical language. Students having concerns about their level of preparation should see their instructor.
Institutional Mechanism for Providing Feedback for Continuous Quality Improvement
Individual professors teaching this course will evaluate each student based on course objectives. Performance assessments will be summarized and reported to the department head or a designate, with separate assessments for relevant learning outcomes. Performance assessments from multiple sections and professors will be compiled into a single comparative report. This report will be utilized for periodic evaluation of ECON 102. The fundamental objective of reviewing student outcomes across course sections is to provide regular feedback for improving instructional effectiveness.