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Evidence of Student Learning in Economics

This document contains suggested evidence of student learning and activities, based on A Framework for Teaching Basic Concepts, Council for Economic Education, 1995. The report is separated into evidence of student learning of primary concepts or here for student learning of intermediate concepts.

Suggested Evidence of Student Learning for Primary Economic Concepts

    Scarcity - Students can state orally all the toys they want, which of those toys they have, and explain why they can't have all the toys they want.

    Economic wants- From pictures or a collection of different types of items, such as baseballs cards, comic books, miniature box of raisins, and apples, students will select one and describe how they feel when they receive the item.

    Goods- Students will describe five objects that they would like to buy at a local store and explain why they want these objects.

    Services- Students will state five services that their teacher provides for them, and name other ways these services might be provided if the teacher did not perform them.

    Choice- Given a list of 20 goods and services, and only tokens representing money, students will select the goods and services they want most, explain their choices to a partner and cite scarcity as the reason why they had to make choices.

    Consumers- Given pictorial examples of people using goods and services, students working in pairs will explain why the people depicted are called consumers and identity the goods and services being consumed.

    Producers- Students will identify five different types of producers of goods and five different types of producers of services.

    Resources- Students will list all the resources that would be needed to build their school and categorize them as natural, human, and human-made (capital) resources.

    Natural Resources- Students will list five different natural resources and identify at least five different uses for trees and for water in producing goods and services for people.

    Human Resources- Given pictures of people in several different occupations, students will name types of skills these people need in order to do their jobs.

    Capital Resources- From a group of classroom items such as desk, chair, flag, clothes hanger, etc., students will name tall the products that had to be made (such as hammers, axes, nails, glue) in order to make these classroom items.

    Opportunity Cost- Given a choice between going to the movies, going to a pizza parlor, or going to an amusement park, students will choose the most favored alternative and will explain which activity is the opportunity cost of the choice.

    Opportunity Cost/Resources- given a list of goods and services, students will name alternative uses for the productive resources used to make them and identify the forgone goods and services as the opportunity cost of the goods and services actually produced. For example, wood used to make a table might have been used instead in building a house, and the worker(s) who built the table might instead have been employed in building the house.

    Specialization- Given tow or more examples of adults in the school or community who specialize in the production of a good or service (baker, law enforcement officer, teacher), students will name the goods and services that these individuals consume but do not produce for themselves.

    Interdependence- Students will name five different items produced by a farmer, baker, and one other person chosen by the class; name five different items each of those persons might want, such as a house, can hot rolls, milk, etc., and explain how each person can get what he wants through exchange.

    Barter- Students will state the difficulties involved in bartering after engaging in the following activity: Explain to students that each will be given something he or she can trade. Distribute a number of different items in varying quantities to members of the class. Ask students to identify which of the items distributed they would like to have most and them attempt to trade with the person who has the item.

    Money- After discussion of the use of money instead of barter, students will state at least three reasons why use of money is preferable.

    Division of Labor/Specialization- From the following example, students will analyze the effects of specialization on interdependence: the Lopez family owns a cattle ranch and members of the family spend all their time raising cattle. What other people and businesses doe the Lopezes have to rely on in order to specialize in raising cattle?

    Markets- Students will identify places near their own homes where specific goods such as food, toys or clothes are sold.

    Public Goods- Students will identify from the following list which goods and services are provided by government: tickets to a play, the fire department, the police department, a television set.

Suggested Evidence of Student Learning for Intermediate Economic Goals

    Scarcity/Choice - Students will list things their families want and also the services that they think should be provided by their local, state and federal government. They will then select those family wants that they would be willing to give up in order to obtain the government services listed and state the reasons for their choices.

    Trade-offs - Students will apply the concepts of "opportunity costs" and "trade- offs" in answering the following: Your grandmother gave you $30 for your birthday and you are trying to decide how to spend it. You are considering buying cassette tapes ( price = $12 each), or going to the movies (ticket price = $3.50 each time you go), or taking some friends out for pizza ($7.50 for each person you take, including yourself). You do not have to spend all you money on one thing; you can chose some of one thing and some of another. How would you spend your money so as to get the greatest satisfaction from your grandmother's present? Why would your choices satisfy you more than the things you gave up?

    Opportunity Cost - Students will apply the concept "opportunity cost" in responding to the following: You are a member of your state's legislature, and there is a $100,000 surplus in the state budget. How much of that $500,000 would you spend on each of the following programs: aid to the homeless, money to retrain unemployed workers, aid to schools in poor neighborhoods, improvement of state roads or money for the state society for prevention of cruelty to animals? Explain why you chose to support certain programs and to spend no money on others. What is the opportunity cost of the choices that you made?

    Human Capital- Students will explain in terms of human capital why engineers make more money than taxi drivers and why teachers with master's degrees earn more money that teachers without master's degrees.

    Traditional Economic System - Students will describe how the three economic questions ( What to produce?, how to produce?, and for whom to produce?) are answered in traditional societies of the past and present, such as Europe in the Middle Ages, the American Indian tribes before the arrival of European settlers, or the rural villages of the less developed countries today.

    Command Economic System - Students will describe the three economic questions are answered in command economies of the past and present, such as the mercantilist nations of early modern Europe or the communist nations of the present time.

    Market Economic System - Students will describe how the three economic questions are answered in the past and the present in a market economy such as the United States, Canada or other western societies.

    Incentives - Students will list economic incentives that have recently affected their behavior, such as taking a part-time job (mowing, delivering newspapers, etc.) to get money to buy something they want.

    Interdependence - Students will list ten ways in which the United States economy would be affected if the Arab countries cut off all trade with the United States.

    Circular flow - Students will draw the circular flow diagram and explain the interrelated roles of households and businesses in the economy.

    Competition - Students will survey their community to find the number of fast- food restaurants and the number of bicycle shops present. Based on the results of the survey, they will draw conclusions about which market is more competitive.

    Public Goods - Students will explain why government instead of private industry usually provides police and fire protection and street and roads.

    Taxes - Students will answer the following questions: If the national, state, and local governments had no power to tax, what goods and services would we have to do without? What foods and services might we have more of?

    Resources - Using encyclopedia and textbooks, students will identify and classify the major resources in several countries and draw conclusions about what kind of resources are scarcer than others in those countries.

    Specialization - Students will cite the benefits of specialization in answering the following questions: The South American country of Ecuador could grow many agricultural products. However, the climate and territory is best suited for the production of coffee and bananas, which can be grown in few other countries. Is it in the best economic interest of the farmers of Ecuador to attempt to grow many crops or to specialize in coffee and bananas? Why?

    Entrepreneurs - After a classroom visit by a local entrepreneur, students will write a short essay on the risk entrepreneur take and the motivation they have in undertaking these risks.

To Student Goals by Class Level