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The source and impact of student preconceptions in economics principles classes

Richard Parsons and Michael Mamo

International Review of Economics Education, 2017, vol. 25, issue C, 15-24

Abstract: Beginning students approach economic issues from a normative viewpoint and see things as ‘good, bad or should be’. These preconceptions and biases can interfere with the attempt to teach economics from a positive approach. This paper seeks to answer the questions 1) Do students come into economics training with preconceptions that could cloud their learning? 2) Is there a way to anticipate at what level specific preconceptions might occur in an identified group of students? Building on the work of Caplan this study uses survey techniques with two diverse student bodies; we find that students enter their study of economics with a significant set of preconceptions and biases, which are correlated with their initial understanding of factual information, and with their socioeconomic background. While the data in this study is limited to two specific set of students there are many students and situations where similar biases are likely to be important to the learning environment.

Keywords: Barriers to learning; Student bias; Preconceptions; Source of bias; Economics education (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A20 A22 I21 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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