Question 1: Write a blog entry where you demonstrate your ability to apply economic principles to explain a phenomenon or conundrum that is of general interest?
Question 2: The effect of the Introduction of ‘mark’ in Gaelic football on a number of long-range kicks per game?
Question 3: Cork City Council recently extended the disk parking area in the city from a 6 pm finish to an 8 pm finish. Is this solely a revenue-raising measure by City Hall?
Question 4: Effect of Netflix on the demand for theatre seats?
“Most students who take introductory economics seem to leave the course without really having learned even the most important basic economic principles”, laments Robert Frank in “The Economic Naturalist Writing Assignment”, published in the Journal of Economic Education (2006). In fact, “when students are given tests designed to probe their knowledge of basic economics 6 months after taking the course, they do not perform significantly better than others who never took an introductory course” (Hansen, Salemi and Siegfried, 2002). Wherein lies the problem? How do instructors or lecturers overcome this? This case study will evaluate a pedagogical device pioneered by Robert Frank: “The Economic Naturalist Writing Assignment”, in which students are asked to pose an interesting question about some pattern of events or behaviour they have personally observed (a real life event) and to use basic economic principles to solve the question in no more than 500 words (Frank, 2006, 2007). In addition to being a useful means for teaching economics at a principles/introductory level, this writing assignment has practical benefits for teaching economics through real world examples and/or to students who are non-specialists. I will conclude with a series of questions (and answers) posed by students when I piloted this writing assignment in my own teaching in 2010.