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Developing and assessing the communication skills of MSc Applied Economics students University of Westminster Philip Hedges

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Title: Developing and assessing the communication skills of MSc Applied Economics students University of Westminster Philip Hedges


1
Developing and assessing the communication skills
of MSc Applied Economics students University of
Westminster Philip Hedges Peter Urwin(2011)
2
Aims
  • To describe the context for the assessment
    strategy
  • To outline how assessment can help develop
    communication ( application) skills
  • To explore alternative practice of assessing
    communication application

3
The Issues
  • Colander (2004) and ODoherty, Street and Webber
    (2007) highlight qualitative evidence of skills
    gap in the typical Economics graduate
  • Employers perceive a shortage of application
    communication skills
  • Economists should be able to use economics
    practically be able to communicate findings to
    specialised non-specialised audiences

4
The Westminster Context
  • Employed on a double credit (40) module
    Application and Appraisal in Economics
  • Core module on MSc Applied Economics optional
    for International Business Economics students
  • Starts in Semester 2 (January May) and
    continues in burst mode through Summer School
    (June July)
  • Government Economic Service recommended

5
Module Aims
  • In the context of supporting policy the focus is
    on the Application of Economics to real world
    scenarios the Communication of Economic
    arguments to both specialist non-specialist
    audiences
  • Successful students are able to show how economic
    techniques of investigation can support the
    development of effective policy

6
Mix of Assessment
  • 3 x viva voce individual examinations (worth 30,
    topics self-chosen) (Feb, April, June)
  • 2 x individual written reports (based on 2 of 3
    viva topics, worth 20)(May, July)
  • 1 x unseen written in-class test (50) (July)

7
Formative Assessment
  • All summative assessments are carried out
    individually though we also set a group
    presentation (24 hr preparation) as part of
    Summer School which are recorded held on the
    module Blackboard site
  • We also set written individual short-answer
    questions for each student
  • Summative formative feedback is given on the
    vivas the reports, and formative provided
    additionally for the group presentation
    individual responses to SAQs

8
Viva voce drop-in
  • Each viva voce topic is first outlined in a 10
    minute drop-in session with 2 academics to
    determine the students focus
  • Aim is to suggest the economic concept(s) likely
    to be useful empirical/technical issues

9
Viva Voce Exam
  • 10 mins student vocal presentation (without
    overheads, using notes only as prompts)
  • 15 mins questions answers led by 2 academics
  • All recorded digitally for CD transfer back to
    student with written feedback form
  • Marked out of 30, 10 marks for knowledge/understan
    ding, 10 marks for application, 10 marks for
    communication

10
Some Topics Chosen
  • Cost-benefit analysis for nuclear energy
  • The case for high speed rail
  • Competition in E-books E-readers
  • Illegal downloading the movie market
  • Economics of crime the effect of incarceration

11
Results ()
Yr 1 n 8, Yr 2 n 10
12
Results
  • Second viva mark usually higher than first, and
    third mark somewhere between the two
  • Second report mean lower than first unexpectedly
  • Overall mean for 5 out of 6 assessments has
    increased from the first to the second cohort
    with 25 more students

13
Questions? Problems? Best practice?
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