ECON 201 Micro-Economic Analysis Course Guide

Course Description

An intermediate-level treatment of the theories of consumer behavior and demand, production and cost, the firm and market organization, and factor markets. Microeconomic topics might include price control, pollution, efficiency, equity, taxes, subsidies, and government regulation.

Assessable Learning Objectives

The core learning objectives for the course are listed below. Beyond this, individual instructors will build upon this core with analysis and applications in specific areas of their choosing.

  1. Demonstrate mastery of supply and demand, including application to regulated and unregulated markets.
  2. Use intermediate utility and production theory to

          a. Show the theoretical reasoning for basic consumer and producer choices
          b. Explain the relationships between marginal thinking, price ratios, and choices (e.g. meaning and significance of px/py=MRS)

    3. Explain in detail what is “good” about competitive markets, and apply this explanation to descriptions of real firms.

    4. Demonstrate an intuitive understanding of efficiency impacts of market power, and relate basic business strategy to the economic idea of market    power.

    5. Demonstrate the use of formal models and methods of analysis. (This means serious problem sets, including math!)

Course Outline

The outline below includes coverage and applications of the core objectives for the course. It is arranged for the most part in the typical order in which course content appears in textbooks. The order can be changed as appropriate to meet the instructors objectives, including coverage of additional content.

  • Demand and supply
  • Rational consumer choice and demand
  • Production
  • Costs
  • Perfect competition and its implications
  • Monopoly and market power
  • Additional topics

Recommended Teaching Methodology

A primary objective in teaching this class is to engage students in active learning and critical thinking about economic concepts.

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. An important additional activity is addressing student problem sets, both as they are in process, and after each has been completed. Instructors should seek to limit the amount of lecturing in the traditional sense, where text material is repeated in a different format.

Secondary methods include the discussion of relevant articles and cases that provide examples and insight into the workings of the micro economy. Articles and cases may be assigned for oral and/or written presentation and discussion. Group work may also be used to reinforce economic concepts and problem solving skills.

Periodic discussion and review of the portfolio of teaching methods employed by instructors in this course is to be made. Such discussions should also include review of the level of rigor expected in each course section.

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.

1. The primary method for assessing the attainment of knowledge is expected to be periodic and final exams. Exams must be designed to assess the student’s level of understanding and ability to discuss material, from the text and class discussions, that is directly related to the learning objectives. A set of common exam questions will be developed to allow systematic assessment of learning objectives. Student outcomes on the set of common questions will be used as one component of an ongoing review of student achievement of course learning objectives.

2. Short written assignments, including especially problem sets, will be utilized to achieve and assess the attainment of learning objectives. Criteria for evaluating written assignments should be clearly identified and explained by the professor.

3. Quizzes may be utilized to ascertain the level of preparation on a regular basis.

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 studying and assignment preparation. This is a survey course addressing the subject of microeconomics. It is one of the core subjects in the economics major. The material to be covered is important. It is worth the student’s time to learn it and to know how to apply it. It can impact careers and the competitiveness of organizations that look to our graduates for contributions. It is not easy material -- 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. This course will require a challenging mix of analytic, quantitative, and 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 201. The fundamental objective of reviewing student outcomes across course sections is to provide regular feedback for improving instructional effectiveness.