The challenge of econometrics


Econometrics is the single most useful undergraduate class for careers that an economics student can take — but, at the same time, a difficult teaching and learning challenge. It’s a class that requires mathematical and economic reasoning, neither sufficient without the other.

Although I have not been teaching econometrics in the regular session, from time to time I will be offering a time-compressed version of this class. It meets two hours and 40 minutes a day, four days a week. There are two “live” sessions each class day and then the remaining 40 minutes is take up with pre-recorded material. Although the content is difficult, in my years teaching the course I have come up with many intuitive examples and exercises that boost learning.

Some students who have difficulty with a traditional semester format for econometrics thrive in the four-week setting. But it is a lot of work in a short period of time! This is not a cut-down or “baby” version of econometrics, as it covers all of the material in my semester-length version of this class.

I’m proud of the accomplishments of those who have taken this class. They have gone on to spheres as diverse as senior executive wealth management and Peace Corps service. If you take this class and do the work, you have every probability of following in their footsteps. There’s just one more thing to know as you make decisions about taking this class: I have a sensible but extreme technology policy.* Reasonable students never have a problem with it.

I look forward to seeing a number of you in econometrics next time around!

*My Econ 385 classroom is a no-technology pro-technology zone. I am pro-technology (first taught online 2001, have had my own money-making websites for years, published multiple articles on the use of technology). But the most important part of econometric technology is knowing what to tell the computer to do, not getting the computer to do it.

Therefore in the in-person version of this class all devices, including phones and laptops, will  be banned. I will use the offline environment to create a high-energy experience. In the absence of this policy, it would be possible for someone to pick up part of the content while paying half-attention to the class, free-riding on other class members who would be counted on to keep the energy level high. I are specifically ruling out this course of action. You have an affirmative duty in this class to contribute or listen actively when we are having discussions and hands-on activities. Therefore, the only acceptable place for your phones and smart devices during class time are in your personal belongings (such as in a backpack) or in the provided boxes. On the table in front of you is not acceptable. Each day there are two 10-minute breaks for you to catch up on anything necessary. If you find that to be insufficient time, please do not enroll in this class.