Welcome to Basic Economics!
For almost all of you this is your first college course in economics. Some of you may have had an economics course in high school, but many have not. Either way, welcome to the study of economics. I realize that for many of you this is a “required” course, but I think you’ll find it very interesting and very helpful.
In this first Unit, I want to cover two topics. First, I want to describe how this course is structured – it’s a bit different from most online courses you’ve taken – and explain why I have chosen to structure the course this way. Second, I want to introduce you to the discipline called “Economics”.
How This Course is Structured – What To Do
To complete this course you will use two websites. First, is the one you are reading now, basic.econproph.net. All study materials that don’t require a grade will be here. The second site is your school’s learning management system (Moodlerooms at HFCC). You will complete all graded assignments such as quizzes, enter your answers for worksheets, post to forums, and take the final exam there.
The course is divided into 15 “units” and those 15 units are grouped according to topic (micro, macro, or issues) in the menu bar above. If you roll your mouse over the menu bar above (don’t click or you’ll leave this page) you’ll see a menu structure where each topic has 3-4 Units below it. You will pretty much study and complete a Unit each week. Each unit has its own main page, the “Jim’s Guide to Unit …”.
Most of the activities or readings in this course are required. Please do them in sequence – it’s easier for you. You complete these activities for each unit.
- Start by reading the “Jim’s Guide” for the unit. It’s the page on this website that’s labeled “Unit x..”. You are reading the “Jim’s Guide” for unit 1 right now. This is always done from this Basic.Econproph.net website.
- Read the assigned portions of the textbook or other assigned readings. What you need to read is listed on the JIm’s Guide page for each unit in a section title “Reading Guide“. IMPORTANT: “Units” in this course do not necessarily correspond to chapters in the textbook. For example, you cannot assume that we will read chapter 6 in the textbook when we are studing unit 6. You must check the Jim’s Guide – Reading Guide to see what to read in the textbook for each unit. Sometimes I added comments about what’s most important, what can be skimmed, and what can be skipped.
- Most units will have a link in the Jim’s Guide to a Practice quiz. (Unit 1 and 15 do not have practice quizzes). Practice quizzes do not count toward your grade and I do not track whether you take them. You may attempt a practice quiz as often as you wish. When a practice quiz is submitted, you will be told the correct answers. It is a very, very good idea to take practice quizzes. The real quiz at the end of the unit will not have the same exact questions as the practice quiz, but they will appear as if the questions are at least “siblings separated at birth”. They can be a real help.
- Some units will have a Worksheet. If there is one (not all units have worksheets), you should click the link. The problem description, the data needed, directions, and the questions you need to answer are listed on the Worksheet page of this site for each unit. But, to submit your answers and get credit for the assignment you need to go to your school’s learning management system (Moodlerooms at HFCC) and enter your answers. Worksheets can be submitted multiple times without penalty. If you get stuck and need help, be sure to check whether there’s a tutorial in the Closer Look page that might help. If you’re still stuck, then post a question in the HELP forums for this course.
- Many Jim’s Guides for different Units will have a section called “Closer Look”. This will contain links to special tutorials or videos that explain particular concepts or ideas in the unit. These Closer Link tutorials/videos are optional, but strongly recommended. They are very helpful in completing worksheets and if you are struggling with a concept.
- Many units (but not all) will have a mandatory Forum. Mandatory forums are found in your school’s learning management system ( Moodlerooms at HFCC). Each forum poses a question for you. You are required to post a response. These posts are graded.
- Finally, be sure you complete all the Graded Quiz for the Unit. Typically this is the graded quiz that you complete on your school’s learning management system.
- Finally, there will be two Midterms, which are again, completed in your school’s learning management system (Moodlerooms at HFCC).
That completes a unit. Then just lather-rinse-repeat until you’ve completed all 14 units. At that point you are ready for the final exam. If you discipline yourself to follow the recommended schedule you will do fine. Don’t be intimidated by what you’ve heard about “economics” or the “math” involved. If you just work my system, I can virtually guarantee you success. I have excellent success rates for students.
I’ve carefully designed and refined this course design over more than 10 years. I’ve designed this course so that you won’t experience this course as the poor souls in this cartoon do (I hope).
When To Do It
Economics teaches us that time is a very scarce resource. I’m interested in you learning the most economics possible, but I want to make good use of your time. Therefore I’ve tried to have a minimum number of “hard” deadlines.
Economics is about choices, costs & benefits, and planning. I have structured this course so that not only will you learn economics, but you have to practice the principles of economics. I am providing you with a lot of flexibility regarding timing and scheduling of work so you can fit it into your schedule.
So you will notice in the syllabus that there are two sets of dates. One set consists of 4 mandatory “hard” deadlines. These are dates and deadlines that you MUST meet. If you don’t there are consequences. For example, if you do not complete all the graded assignments for Unit 1 by the mandatory deadline, you will be dropped from the class. The other set of dates is a recommended schedule. This is a recommended pacing of when you SHOULD try to complete each unit. If you miss a particular recommended date, the only adverse consequence is that you are falling behind and therefore need to work a little more in the following week or two to catchup.
I try to only schedule hard “MUSt” deadlines when I absolutely must. For example, there’s a hard deadline to complete Unit 1 including its quizzes and forums. That deadline exists because I need to know by that date whether you fully understand what to do and intend to complete the course, or whether I should drop you as a no-show. I have administrative reports I have to file with the school that tie to that deadline.
Despite the few hard deadlines, I recommend that you discipline yourself to follow the recommended schedule. Students who follow the schedule have much higher success rates. Students who procrastinate or think they can cram a lot into a little calendar time usually find it becomes much harder, takes longer, and they often don’t succeed. I want you to succeed.
Tips and Suggestions on How to Study
- Plan your work schedule. Don’t let it all pile up on you.
- In the textbook, focus on the “core” narrative, don’t be distracted by the little side-bar stories.
- When you encounter a graphical model, before you jump to the center of attention (the line or curve or intersection in the middle), look at the axes. Make sure you understand what two variables are being graphed first. Then make sure you understand what each point in the graph-space means – in other words, imagine what economic choice or activity is represented by different points in the graph. Then focus on the curves and intersections. They’ll make more sense then.
- Don’t be afraid to read and re-read multiple times. Economics is not easy for most students. It involves a way of thinking about problems and questions. Often it is a way of thinking and learning that students have not encountered very often in the earlier schooling. For example, it’s not a set of facts or definitions to memorize (like history or biology), and it’s not a particular procedure or skill to be repeat practiced (like arithmetic or writing).
- Try to imagine real people making real choices and decisions.
- Keep your economics ideas in the back of your mind even when you’re not studying econ. You should be able to see the economic principles in action in everyday life. You might go to the store for soda or see an advertisement. Odds are there are some economic principles illustrated in what you see people do everyday…
…after all, economics is the study of
the ordinary business of life.
– Alfred Marshall