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Misconceptions in Economics

On the agenda for April's EconEdChat were 3 questions:

  1. What are the most common misconceptions do students have in Economics and how can we avoid them?

  2. What do teachers need to know before teaching Financial Economics?

  3. How are teachers tackling TAGs?

This post focuses on the first question.


  • The MRU shifts vs slides game is here , they also have a very clear video addressing this here

  • I mentioned 'Always, Sometimes, Never' (not to be confused with 'Sometimes, Never, Always', a film about scrabble with Bill Nighy). An example would be this sort of thing which is part of the Circular Flow ASN activity

  • I realise I talk about a 50% increase then talk about doubling - I got distracted half way through my point. Apologies, I do actually know how maths works!

  • Antony mentions variation theory as a useful tool for avoiding misconceptions. We briefly spoke about this is this EconEdChat. You can read more about variation theory here and see some cool examples in Econ here with some elasticity worksheets by Jake Goodman. Guy Durden at UCL is the expert on this.

  • I mention using flowcharts to get around some of the misconceptions surrounding employment terminology, I meant this sort of thing from Full Fact*:

  • I'm pretty sure that Venn Diagrams for similarities and differences is fairly self-explanatory, but this is what I mean

  • Gavin mentioned this clip from Matilda to illustrate the diminishing marginal utility of chocolate cake. Gavin has also made some amazing 'Thinking Cards' which look like really good ways of dealing with misconceptions. Basically he shows 4 (cartoon) people, each with a speech bubble saying something on a topic, whether that's productivity or interest rates, or even exam technique or literacy. This would be great for discussions on which are right or wrong and why, and who is talking the most sense. I'm now itching to try something similar, particularly giving 4 incorrect statements and having students work out why.

  • I think it was commonly the 'Global Economy' OCR paper that had the 'Distinguish between' element, you can find examples of some of those papers here. (I fell down a bit of a rabbit hole looking for the papers I took as a student, and I can't help but think that these were really nice papers?!)

Econ Ed Chat takes place the first Wednesday of the month at 6pm GMT. All welcome.

* In trying to find the sort of flow chart I use, I came across these other graphics, both from the ONS, which I thought were interesting which also address some misconceptions


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