Two professors of the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith’s College of Business, Dr. Dan Settlage, and Dr. Jim Wollscheid, received a commendation from the Journal of Economics Teaching, earning the 2019 Best Paper Award for their paper, “The Invisible Hand in Action - An Interactive Classroom Experiment.”
The two were recognized for their work during the JET 2020 Symposium for Economics Teaching, which took place Jan. 24-25 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Their paper develops a flexible economic game that can be implemented in a classroom setting to improve the experience of the student and teacher at both the K-12 level and the university level.
“This award serves as recognition for the hard work and continued success that we have had in publishing in the scholarship of teaching and learning area,” said Settlage. “We both appreciate this award, but more importantly, we appreciate the commitment of both UAFS and the College of Business in supporting teaching and scholarship at its highest levels.”
Wollscheid added , “It is an honor to receive an award acknowledging the efforts that are put into the classroom experience to improve the student’s experience with economics. The commitment from the university and the College of Business has been invaluable in allowing us to improve the learning environment for our students.”
Over the past two years, the game has been demonstrated in a high school setting through the university’s Adopt-A-Professor partnership, which began in 2015 on the UAFS campus. The program pairs volunteer PreK-12 teachers in the River Valley with volunteer UAFS professors. Each teacher/professor pair develops three unique, creative, hands-on learning engagements over the course of an academic semester. The engagements may take place at the school, on campus, or in the greater community with industry partners.
Dr. Settlage and Wollscheid have participated in seven semesters of the program, pairing with teachers at Ramsey Junior High School, Kimmons Junior High School and Alma High School.
“Having an economically literate society is crucial for our democracy,” explained Jenn Jennings, Executive Director for the Office of P-20 Collaboration which oversees the Adopt-a-professor program. “Students are empowered when they understand how economics impact them—from understanding supply and demand and how prices are determined to being able to discern implication of varying market structures. Doctors Settlage and Wollscheid, alongside the teachers and students who have ‘adopted’ them over the years, are accomplishing just that; they are empowering students through economic literacy. They make the learning real.”
The full abstract of the award-winning papers states: “The economic concepts of market formation, industrial organization, and the behavioral implications of market structure are difficult for students to conceptualize. In this paper, we establish an interactive entrepreneurship game that can be played in a single class period. This game introduces the concepts of entrepreneurship, markets and equilibrium price formation, and firm profit. In a single class period, students form markets and observe “the invisible hand,” form collusive cartels and see competitive profit driven to zero. In addition, the game can be easily extended to bring new economic topics into the existing framework over the entire course.”