I have taken and TAed for so many courses that were just on autopilot: the topics and structure was chosen because that is what had been done before. Little thought was given to how students can learn, and what parts of the course material would be applicable and useful for life. I strive to have well defined, strong learning objectives and well designed student assessments that align well with those objectives.
I want to design my courses with the end goal in mind, thinking about how students are likely to use the material after graduation, and what concepts are really the most important. I want to students to engage with the material and use it to inform their experiences with the world around them. I want them to be able to apply what they are learning in ways that are unique to their experiences – creating knowledge, not just memorizing information.
This fall I proposed, and had the opportunity to teach a brand new course: a first-year writing seminar on the US healthcare system (syllabus here). This course is very different from other classes I have helped teach and almost all economics classes. While covering a lot of content, it is a writing class that is discussion based. The goal is to get the students to engage with and consider pertinent policy issues in our healthcare system. While most of the students in the class are not majoring in economics, I have been able to introduce them to economic principles and we have used those ideas to inform our thinking and discussions.
While I have not yet taught Intermediate Microeconomics, as a teaching assistant I have thought a lot about things I will do differently when I have my own class. I constructed an example syllabus which captures some of those thoughts.