Course: ECO 101
Instructor: Elizabeth Bogan
F 2017-2018

Description of Course Goals and Curriculum

  1. The purpose of the class is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the impacting factors and the resulting effects of changes in the macroeconomy. At the end of the course, students should have a complete, but basic, knowledge of macroeconomics, including the key players and factors. Additionally, students will cultivate a mathematical understanding of macroeconomics through problem sets, which will result in enhanced analytical skills that combine quantitative and qualitative concepts. Lastly, Professor Bogan highly emphasizes the importance of real world applications in her class, which resulted in her assigning multiple news articles for readings every week. This class is an introductory course in economics and is often a prerequisite for students looking to enter the economics department.
  2. The class is structured with both lectures and precepts; lectures occur twice a week in a large room of over 100 students with Professor Bogan, and precepts occur once a week in small classes of about 30 lead by a graduate preceptor. There are problem sets due every week, which are graded by the preceptors, and additional article readings are expected to be done before the assigned date in lecture. There is an extremely comprehensive syllabus written by Professor Bogan that lays out the entire semester, including problem set due dates, reading due dates, and exams.
  3. The class covers a large number of different topics within the realm of macroeconomics. These topics include but are not limited to political economy, measuring GDP, economic growth, inflation, taxes, Keynesian and other theories on economic policy, monetary vs. fiscal policy, and exchange rates. There was also a heavy emphasis placed on the 2008 financial crisis and historical examples in China, Japan and India.

Learning From Classroom Instruction

  • Lecture
    • Lectures are an extremely important part of the class curriculum as the majority of all content in the class is taught in lecture. The lecture is led by Professor Bogan twice a week, and the topics under discussion are always given ahead of time in the course syllabus. From the lectures, Professor Bogan expects the students to learn the concepts discussed and apply those when completing the readings or doing problem sets.
    • The lectures are set up the same every time, during which Professor Bogan will go over the slides she has prepared. The slides are made available to students ahead of time. At the beginning of the lecture, she will discuss which current events articles and other readings are expected to be completed by precept. Then, she will discuss content, and answer questions one-on-one at the very end.
    • The lectures proceed at a very fast pace, often because there is so much information to cover. Often times, it is easy to get lost, since each slide comes with a large amount of material and you are trying to pay attention to Professor Bogan’s speech, as what she says may differ from what is on the slide and can often be included in testing situations or on the problem sets. One helpful way to get the most out of lecture is to print the lecture slides out beforehand and take notes directly on the slides, especially since there are many important graphs and diagrams. Others like to write notes directly in the “Notes” section of the powerpoint slide. Reviewing the slides before lecture is a great way to better comprehend and remember the material. Reviewing the slides after lecture is best for getting a recap and cementing the knowledge in your memory.
    • The lectures often center more around real life and historical examples to illustrate macroeconomic concepts, rather than explaining too much about the concepts themselves. All deeper questions can be answered by reading the textbook or going to a preceptor.
    • Professor Bogan offers office hours, which will be listed on the syllabus handed out at the beginning of the year.
  • Precept
    • Precepts are slightly less important to the core understandings of the course. During precept, the class often reviews questions which are specifically listed out in the syllabus. These questions often reflect bigger issues within the realm of macroeconomics that merit discussion. In precept, we also discuss the articles and readings that were to be done and review concepts illustrated from these articles.
    • It is in precept where the connection between lecture and the readings are illustrated and made clear. After attending precept, students will understand why readings were assigned and be better equipped to complete the problem sets, especially since most precept discussions are more mathematical in nature.
    • Precept can be challenging if you do not complete the readings, as the class goes very in depth and takes a broad overview on the concepts in the articles. It is important to come prepared, so you can ask the preceptor any questions about topics you don’t understand, as these topics are often tested on exams. Furthermore, speaking up in precepts will make for a more enriching experience, as students can bounce ideas off each other and explore more concepts in depth through a discussion in class.
    • Precept is also a good opportunity to ask any questions about problem sets that will be due in the future. It is smart to take a look over the problem set before precept and approach with anything you don’t understand.
    • Each preceptor will be the one to grade your problem sets, so they will often explain in class concepts that are important for the weekly problems.
    • Each preceptor holds office hours weekly for any additional questions. These will also be listed on the syllabus, so students are aware of the opportunities available.

Learning For and From Assignments

  • Problem Sets
    • Purpose
      • The purpose of the problem sets its to explain concretely the more theoretical concepts discussed in lecture and precept. Furthermore, doing problem sets allow students to develop a quantitative understanding of economics.
      • The problem sets also make it easier to understand current events and provide an example for what to expect on exams.
    • Challenges
      • The most significant challenge with problem sets is that it often covers materials that seem to be unrelated to what we learn in class. Since the lectures mostly center around theoretical and historical applications of economics, it’s not uncommon to feel like the problems on the problem sets are completely foreign to you.
      • The quantitative nature of the problem sets can also be difficult if you have no prior economics background.
    • Strategic approaches
      • If you are stuck on a problem set, it is often helpful to review the materials covered in precept and look at the lecture slides. The precept discussions most likely will mirror what is expected from the students.
      • If the problem on the set seems completely foreign, one approach is to look at the textbook appendices. These sections often provide additional information related to solving quantitative problems.
      • The set will most likely feature both multiple choice and free answer questions. Most of the time, drawing a diagram will help you along with solving a problem.
      • Having a good problem set group will also help immensely in doing the problems and understanding the concepts. Bounce ideas off each other!
  •  Readings
    • Purpose
      • The purpose of the readings is to provide real world applications regarding the topics we learn in class.
      • Additionally, readings from the Economist serve to educate students on current events in the macroeconomics sphere.
    •  Challenges
      • One of the main challenges with the readings is that they are often long and laden with a large amount of economics jargon that are not well explained in class. There is also a lot of reading assigned each week that can be pushed to the wayside.
      • Additionally, readings often seem optional in the face of more pressing assignments, like problem sets and other classwork.
    • Strategic approaches
      • A good way to approach the readings is to always get them done before precept and make a habit out of it. Since the readings often directly relate to what we learn in precept and lecture, getting it done beforehand will also help you understand precepts.
      • I find it helpful to take notes on two or three main points throughout the articles and keep reviewing those over the semester. Since these readings are tested on both the midterm and the final, having a quick summary makes it easy for you to review at the end of the semester.
      • If you are pressed for time, read the topic sentences and last sentence of each paragraph. This will allow you to develop an understanding of the article, which you can refine in precept and later on when you extensively read the article.
  •  Exams
    • Kinds of problems and thinking required
      • The exam has three main types of problems: true-false, multiple-choice, and free answer. The true false mainly tests information from the current events articles, which are taken from the Economist. The multiple-choice surrounds both historical events, older readings, and broad topics in economics. The free answer portion often regards a use of mathematics or graph drawings.
      • The kinds of thinking required for these exams are both analytical and include memorization in nature. Memorization is extremely important for answering questions about the articles and for completing the true false and some multiple-choice questions. However, for the free response, it is important to understand the material and to analyze new information or demonstrate your understanding with graphs.
    • Organizing and synthesizing materials to prepare for exam
      • One good way to prepare for the exam is to thoroughly review all the lecture slides. Most of the exam material is taken straight from the slides, so understanding and memorizing the content on the slides is extremely important.
      • Additionally, it would be helpful to reread the main points you wrote for each article as you were reading, and even read the articles again if time allows. Since true-false questions often come from this portion of the class materials, this can help you earn extra points.
      • Another way to understand the material is to look over the old problem sets and redo any problems you got wrong. Looking at the solutions that are given is also a helpful way to become acquainted with the types of problems that show up on the free-response.
      • Lastly, I think a good way to get an overview of the course is to take the course syllabus and go through each topic point by point, writing down everything you know regarding the topic. Then, you have a sheet that you can quickly reference if you need to review anything that was covered in the course. This exercise also helps cement these concepts in your head, so you will remember them better by exam time.
    • How course assignments help prepare for exams
      • The problem sets very closely mimic the structure of the midterm and final exams, as they also feature multiple-choice and free response. Doing these problem sets give you a better understanding of the analytical thinking needed to do well on the exams in the class, and the weekly problem sets cover every essential topic in the course.

External Resources

  • An extremely helpful resource is the preceptors’ office hours, during which time they will answer all questions regarding the problem sets. This can, however, be a dangerous resource, as you may become too reliable on getting the answer from them and not develop the proper skills. Each preceptor holds their hours at different times, which will be listed in the syllabus.
  • Another useful resource that can help you develop these analytical abilities is McGraw private tutoring sessions, as well as McGraw study groups. At the McGraw center, you can get help from a student who has taken and done well in the class, which will allow you to better understand which skills are needed to succeed. Additionally, you can work with other students in ECO 101 and help each other in a study group.

What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course Selection

  • This is honestly a basic introductory economics course, which is often taken as a prerequisite course for economics majors or a broad course for those with an interest in economics. If you have AP credit, it would be wise to place out, since you would already understand many of the concepts taught.
  • Doing the problem sets and understanding them is essential to doing well in the course, as well as attending lecture. Unlike many other Princeton classes, ECO101 often takes their test questions directly from lecture slides and slightly modify them from problem sets. I would even go as far as to say there are little or no hidden expectations – just do what is listed in the syllabus and you have all the tools to succeed.
  • This class will allow you to better understand what goes on in the world around you. If all you want to do is learn about theoretical concepts in economics, this is not the class for you. Professor Bogan does an amazing job of telling a story, especially about the rise and fall of countries economically, and the 2008 economic crisis. You will come out a more informed citizen.
Introduction to Macroeconomics

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