April 2016 newsletter – From Lahore to Sheffield – Workshops on implementing and teaching the new CORE Intro course

By Alvin Birdi, on behalf of the CORE Teaching Committee

The CORE project is best known for its interactive online textbook, which brings recent research developments and real-world data to the forefront in a new way of teaching a first course in economics (www.core-econ.org ).1

What is perhaps less known is the impact that adopting CORE has on teaching and the resources that the project has developed to support universities that adopt this new approach. 784 teachers from 60 countries have been given access to the teachers’ resources on the CORE website. And CORE is running a number of workshops to focus on its implementation and teaching. The workshops abroad are supported by the International Economic Association and in the UK by the Friends Provident Foundation.

In December, the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) hosted a workshop. Students and faculty from LUMS shared their experiences of the CORE Intro course with colleagues from universities from across Pakistan. Juan Camilo Cardenas from the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota (and a CORE contributor) explained how classroom games can be used in teaching – and the first implementation took place in the classroom last month at LUMS. For more, see the video here https://vimeo.com/156223475

Closer to home, the first of the UK workshops was run at the University of the West of England at the end of January and the second in early March at the University of Sheffield. 65 delegates from 24 universities have attended. The aim of the workshops is to introduce delegates from a range of departments to the ethos of CORE and its distinctive teaching methodology, the ebook and its supplementary teaching resources, and to share experiences of teachers and students who have already used CORE in their first year courses.

Delegates at the UWE workshop heard the experiences of lecturers from University College London, the University of Bristol and the University of Siena in Italy. Lecturers reported that a significant majority of students read the e-book ahead of the lectures signalling an engagement with economics that was not evident in their students before the adoption of CORE. This created both challenges and opportunities for lecturers in making best use of the large group teaching sessions. More space is created for a range of active learning methods, including games and experiments. The workshop also addressed delegates’ concerns arising from implementing CORE in the first year, including issues around staff buy-in and support for the training of teaching assistants, as well as how students cope with the transition to second year.

Four students from the University of Bristol presented at the workshops, giving their views of CORE from the learners' perspective. The students highlighted aspects of the ebook that they found most useful in their learning emphasizing the interactivity of graphs and quizzes and the availability of revision tools. They commented on their enjoyment of an up-to-date text which was both engaging and relevant. One of the students who had previously studied economics remarked on how he was able to understand and discuss the economics he read in the news, a skill he felt he did not have after his earlier, more traditional, courses.

In addition, the workshops introduced delegates to the ancillary teaching resources provided on the CORE website. The resources, which are being developed and added to by the CORE teaching committee include: additional multiple choice quizzes, ideas for games, data and figures from each of the units and lecture slides. In addition, a platform called CORE Labs is being constructed, which will allow teaching staff to share files, links and other resources and also to interact with each other.

Next workshop…
The next workshop on the implementation and teaching of CORE will be held at the University of Glasgow on Wednesday 25th May. For more information, please check the CORE website and/or Twitter feed.

Editor’s note:
1. For details of the CORE project itself, see the feature by Wendy Carlin, ‘New teaching for economics: the INET-CORE project’, RES Newsletter, no. 166, July 2014, pp.11- 15. www.res.org.uk/view/art4Jul14Features.html