Department of Economics

Course Syllabus for

ECON 1411 - Introduction to Economics

taught by

Frank D. Tinari, Ph.D., Professor of Economics

Fall 1997

To help inform you about this course, I have answered the following questions most commonly asked by my students.

Q#1: Is this course very difficult?

A: Although what is easy for one student may be difficult for another, many students find that they must spend more time on this course than on many of their others. They often state that the subject matter is not especially hard to understand, but that there is quite a bit of new terminology that must be learned and new techniques that must be applied. So they have to work fairly hard at it.

Q#2: Is a term paper required?

A: No large term paper is required. However, a series of short essays are required.These are written inclass after your review and study of assigned readings. For grading purposes at the end of the semester, the lowest fifth of your essay grades are eliminated (including missed essays) prior to calculating your overall essay average.  Your average on all written assignements is assignments is assigned a 30% weight towards your course grade.

Q#3: What are the short essay assignments?

A:  You will be given a question to answer for each essay prior to the day of the essay and will be asked to study assigned and other materials in preparation for answering the essay question in class.  These questions were developed to address many of the major themes addressed  in the course.

Q#4: Will I be evaluated on both content and the way in which I convey my ideas?

A: Yes. Content is evaluated on the basis of correctness, completeness and relevance to the topic at hand. In addition, if your assignment contains incorrect grammar, misspelled words, or other inappropriate modes of expression, I will correct these.

Q#5: Are grades curved?

A: No. I do not predetermine a target number of students who should receive an A or B, etc. Your grade is determined by your level of performance on the various evaluations and assignments that I administer. You do not compete against other students for a better grade. Therefore, if you decide to help one another, for example, by studying together, no one would be penalized.

Q#6: How many tests are given?

A: There are two written tests given during the semester, plus a comprehensive final. The first test is assigned a weight of 15% of your course grade, and the second test is given a weight of 20%. The comprehensive final exam is given a weight of 25%. My weighting strategy assumes that the new subject matter or format and scope may cause you to earn a somewhat lower grade than otherwise. Therefore, the first test is assigned a smaller weight than subsequent tests.

Some students have difficulty with a comprehensive exam because the necessity of reviewing the entire semester's course content frightens or overwhelms them. Thus, it is important to practice good study habits during the entire semester.

Q#7: What is the format of your tests?

A: Each test is comprised of four types of questions, ranging from simple definitions to more challenging forms that include brief essays, short problems, and analysis of quoted statements. The first type asks you to give your definition of terms selected from the list of important terms found at the end of each textbook chapter. The second type of question asks you to use graphs to develop your answer. The third type is best described as a short essay that would typically ask you to describe, or compare, or list the components of topics, theories or ideas selected from among those you have been assigned to study. The fourth type of question consists of quoted statements. You are asked to read carefully each statement and then explain why you agree or disagree with the statement. The statements are drawn from assigned readings, the media, and my imagination. This type of question is designed to determine your ability to select and apply concepts and tools (from among those learned in the course) that you believe would be most appropriate in helping you respond to each quoted statement.

Q#8: Are multiple-choice questions ever used?

A: There is only one time when such questions are used. On the last day of the course, a 20-question multiple-choice test is administered by the Economics Department to students enrolled in all sections of this course. Your performance on this test is scored by computer and the department requires that your grade on it should comprise ten percent of your overall course average.

Q#9: Can the final comprehensive test be waived?

A: Almost all students must take the final test. However, those who respond affirmatively to my invitation to become peer tutors have the option of not taking the final test. To receive such an invitation, you must earn an A on the first test administered in the course. In exchange for a final exam waiver, peer tutors agree to make themselves available to help other students four hours weekly, and to keep a record of their tutoring experience.

Q#10: Do I need to know a lot of math for this course?

A: It depends on what you mean by "math." If you mean calculus or complicated formulas, the answer is definitely "no." However, you should come prepared to understand and manipulate ratios, fractions and percentages, and you should feel comfortable reading tables, and creating and manipulating graphs. If you believe you are weak in any of these skills, you should take steps to strengthen them by reviewing basic references and materials in these areas.

Q#11: Are there any prerequisite courses for taking this course?

A. No.

Q#12: If I need it, what kind of extra help can I get?

A: After the first test, you will receive a list of course tutors and their hours of availability. There is no financial charge for seeing any of these tutors, and you may meet with them as often as you choose. Keep in mind, however, that tutors are a resource that will be helpful only if you have already done your share of study and review. If you perform poorly on the first test, you must speak to me in my office, and you will be assigned tutoring assistance.

In addition to the tutors, I am available to help you in any way that I can. This semester, my office hours are 10:00-10:50 am on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, and at other times by appointment. My office is room 651 on the sixth floor of Kzlowski Hall. You may send me e-mail by addressing your message to TINARIFR, and you may call me at 761-9125. If I am not in, please leave a message in my voice mail.

Q#13: How long have you been teaching economics?

A: Since 1967.

Q#14: What is your style of teaching?

A: I use what might be called a Socratic dialogue method, i.e., an active question-and-answer style of lecture that involves the whole class. I encourage students to ask questions and I often ask questions during a lecture. Because I memorize every student's name, and I call upon nearly everyone, it is difficult for students to avoid class participation. Students often tell me that this technique makes the class interesting and alive. I also have a policy that allows students to take a "rain check" if they do not happen to know the answer to a particular question. They can then cash in the "rain check" by answering another question later on.

Q#15: What is your teaching philosophy?

A: I consider myself one of your key resources to help you learn economics. Note that I use the terms "resources" and "learn." In addition to your professor, the resources available to you in this course include your assigned textbook, study guide, and related computer software, and your classmates, friends and peer tutors. Extended resources include other faculty members, and library sources and personnel.

The term "learn" emphasizes that you are ultimately responsible for studying, grappling with new ideas, working out homework problems, questioning others, and generally making every effort to help you educate yourself. Given the limited time that we will spend together in class, it is impossible for me to lecture on every aspect of each assigned topic. Rather, I will discuss important and/or difficult topics. Thus, it becomes your responsibility to review assigned readings to gain a full understanding of assigned topics.

The expression "no pain, no gain" applies to learning. Students often tell me that they worked harder in this course than in many others, but that they learned much about the economy and how people behave in their day-to-day life.

Q#16: Do students have the opportunity of evaluating the quality of this course?

A: Yes. At the end of the semester, a student course evaluation is administered. In addition, I usually administer a student mid-course evaluation as a more timely form of feedback on the effectiveness of the course.

Q#17: Why do only a relatively small number of your students earn high grades?

A: There are several reasons. For some, it might be poor study habits. Others may be faced with insufficient time available that can be devoted to the course. Sometimes personal and/or health problems interfere. A lack of motivation, laziness or poor use of time may be the reason for some. It is rarely because the textbook is too difficult or because lectures could not be understood. I have observed that a number of students hurt their chances for a better grade by not submitting all of their homework assignments. Or they fall behind by not getting a copy of the lecture notes when they have missed a class. Lectures may be audio-taped, but few students take advantage of this option.

Q#18: What are my responsibilities as a student in your course?

A: I expect you to behave ethically in your relationship with me and your classmates. You are expected to attend all classes except for a serious reason, do all assigned readings, submit all homework assignments on time, adhere to all deadlines, take all tests on assigned days, take good lecture notes, and generally stay current in the course. If you expect to miss a class, please arrange for someone to audio-tape the lecture or at least get a copy of the lecture notes.

Q#19: What are the required references for this course?

A: You are required to read Frank D. Tinari, Economics: The Options for Dealing with Scarcity (Scott-Foresman, 1986) Edwin mansfield, ed, Leading Economic Contraversies of 1996, (Norton, 1996). In addition, you will be required to read other materials distributed by me in class or placed on reading reserve in Walsh Library.

Q#20: Will the scope and topic coverage of this section vary from other sections of this course?

A. The Department of Economics requires all section instructors to adhere to the department's Master Syllabus for this course. That syllabus specifies topics that must be covered by all instructors (and about which questions on the departmental final exam will be selected). The approach and emphasis varies, however, in accordance with the focus and interests of each instructor.

The following pages give more details about the scope of the course. The estimated allocation of class time is given each topic after each topicheading, and the assigned textbook reading chapter number is given in brackets.

I. Introduction {1 week, starting August 26}

                     Scarcity, costs and benefits, options for dealing with scarcity [1]

                     Using graphs

                    Measuring economic performance [2; 11 pp. 223-25]

II. Economic growth and development {1 week, starting Sept 2}[11 pp. 231-34; 18 pp. 376-87]

              Measuring economic progress

                   Determinants of growth

III. Allocative efficiency ("microeconomics") {6 weeks, starting Sept. 9}


                 Specialization and exchange [10]

                Market exchange [3-5]

Test #1 & Review {approximately October 2}

            Market strengths & weaknesses [2; 7pp. 130-35 & 140-43; 9 pp. 166-82]

               Role of government [13 pp. 260-71]

IV. Distributional equity {2 weeks, starting approximately October 28}

                                             [8; 9 pp. 182-88; supplemental readings/lectures]

Test #2 & Review {approximately November 13}

V. Aggregate Efficiency ("macroeconomics") {4 weeks, starting approximately Nov. 18} [11-17, 19]

Study Day {December 12}

Final Comprehensive Exam & Departmental Final

Course To help students come to a fuller understanding of how the American Objectives: market economy functions, and to provide students with concepts and tools of analysis to assist you in analyzing economic issues of the day.

Course Fundamental principles, concepts, methodology and economic reasoning Overview: of the discipline. Emphasis on theoretical, institutional, historical and policy foundations of various contemporary issues. Also, for students not planning to major in economics or who need a strong foundation before undertaking ECON 1402 and ECON 1403.

Sources of New York Times

Current Wall Street Journal

Developments: The Economist

U.S. News and World Report

These publications are available in Walsh Library. You may also want to subscribe on a reduced-price, trial basis, in order to receive them regularly at your residence. See me for the appropriate subscription forms.

In addition, copies of several economics textbooks have been put on reserve at the Walsh Library for your reference. These may be handy in studying particularly difficult topics in that they afford other views or approaches.

Educational goals:

To help you achieve a fundamental level of economic literacy and a deeper understanding of the functioning of the American economy.

Three learning objectives follow from this broad goal:

1. to reduce any confusion you may feel regarding economic events, which is accomplished by giving you a comprehensive and integrated economics perspective of reality;

2. to provide you with workable tools for analyzing the economic implications of news events, which is accomplished by presenting you with economic concepts, and instructing you in how they may be applied; and

3. to prepare you with a sound foundation for continuing your further study of economics; which is accomplished by exposing you to important ideas in economics which have been developed over the past 200 years.

I hope that through your study of economics, you will gain increased understanding of the world around you, which is a fundamental goal of all education.

Ground Rules:

1. Academic honesty is expected of all students. Fortunately, most students are neither cheaters or liars. Honesty in the face of difficulty reflects not only self-discipline but respect for yourself and your fellow students. Cheaters hurt themselves more than anyone else, but others are discouraged in their own academic efforts by unpunished cheating. Enough said.

2. You are held responsible for everything associated with this course, including all lectures, examinations, and assignments. Please make arrangements with some of your classmates to keep yourself current in the course. Missing a class meeting is NOT an acceptable excuse for any unfulfilled course responsibility.

3. You are expected to adhere to all deadlines. Assignments and reading requirements should be completed on or before specified dates. If you miss an assignment deadline or examination, you must notify me ahead of time or, in an emergency, call my office as soon as possible.

4. You are expected to attend all classes unless unavoidable circumstances prevent you from doing so. Lectures may be audio-taped as long as the process does not disturb other students.

5. All exams must be taken on assigned days. Unexcused absence results in a grade of zero for the missed exam. Please call me immediately if you have a valid reason for being absent. No make-up exams are given.

6. Regarding homework assignments, please make sure they are neat (typed if possible) with no ripped edges, and stapled if more than one sheet. Late homework submissions are penalized points that increase with the amount of lateness. Due to time constraints and in fairness to all, no "extra" assignments are allowed as a way of augmenting your grade. However, your lowest homework grade is dropped before determining your homework grade average.

7. Regarding the ethical standards to which I attempt to adhere in my courses, please read the attached "Statement of Professional Ethics" issued by the AAUP. Your special attention is directed to paragraph II.

8. You are encouraged to speak to me about any problems of concern to you. If my office hours are inconvenient for you, please see me to arrange an appointment for a mutually convenient time.

9. If you feel you have been aggrieved in some way by me or any faculty member at Seton Hall, you should inquire about the University's Grievance Procedure available to students.

Possible Course Grades:

Total Percentage Points Earned Letter Grade

89.0% - 100% A

84.0% - 88.9% B+

79.0% - 83.9% B

74.0% - 78.9% C+

69.0% - 73.9% C

63.5% - 68.9% D+

57.0% - 63.4% D

Less than 57% F

In addition, please review carefully the official grading system and options available to you as published in the University Bulletin.

If you wish to find out your course grade soon after completion of the course, on or before the day of the Final exam please give me a stamped addressed envelope or post card.

Statement on

Professional Ethics

I. The professor, guided by a deep conviction of the worth and dignity of the advancement of knowledge, recognizes the special responsibilities placed upon him. His primary responsibility to his subject is to seek and to state the truth as he sees it. To this end he devotes his energies to developing and improving his scholarly competence. He accepts the obligation to exercise critical self-discipline and judgment in using, extending, and transmitting knowledge. He practices intellectual honesty. Although he may follow subsidiary interests, these interests must never seriously hamper or compromise his freedom of inquiry.

II. As a teacher, the professor encourages the free pursuit of learning in his students. He holds before them the best scholarly standards of his discipline. He demonstrates respect for the student as an individual, and adheres to his proper role as intellectual guide and counselor. He makes every reasonable effort to foster honest academic conduct and to assure that his evaluation of students reflects their true merit. He respects the confidential nature of the relationship between professor and student. He avoids any exploitation of students for his private advantage and acknowledges significant assistance from them. He protects their academic freedom.

III. As a colleague, the professor has obligations that derive from common membership in the community of scholars. He respects and defends the free inquiry of his associates. In the exchange of criticism and ideas he shows due respect for the opinions of others. He acknowledges his academic debts and strives to be objective in his professional judgment of colleagues. He accepts his share of faculty responsibilities for the governance of his institution.

IV. As a member of his institution, the professor seeks above all to be an effective teacher and scholar. Although he observes the stated regulations of the institution, provided they do not contravene academic freedom, he maintains his right to criticize and seek revision. He determines the amount of character of the work he does outside his institution with due regard to his paramount responsibilities within it. When considering the interruption or termination of his service, he recognizes the effect of his decision upon the program of the institution and gives due notice of his intentions.

V. As a member of his community, the professor has the rights and obligations of any citizen. He measures the urgency of these obligations in the light of his responsibilities to his subject, to his students, to his profession, and to his institution. When he speaks or acts as a private person he avoids creating the impression that he speaks or acts for his college or university. As a citizen engaged in a profession that depends upon freedom for its health and integrity, the professor has a particular obligation to promote conditions of free inquiry and to further public understanding of academic freedom.

American Association of

University Professors