The last time I taught it was an intro course for campus honors students with a total enrollment of 15. The course was a success and it was fun to teach. I tried to teach it again this semester but was told that course had already been allocated and was asked whether I wanted to teach an intermediate micro course. I've taught that course quite a bit in the past. The students are much less motivated and in general instructor evaluations for the course are low. Also, I wasn't prepared to do that (I didn't want to use my old materials and hadn't done anything new in this course since 2001 other than some Excelets I had designed to accompany a textbook) and consequently I didn't think I would learn about the teaching and learning issues. So I told the department no.
But in the back of my head, I've been thinking about what it would take to make this course a success. Would it be possible to really click, armed with the knowledge I've got now, say if I had 60 students and no TA. (If the department offered some grading assistance, I'm not sure how I would use it.) On the one hand, I've got all these technical tricks up my sleeve - digital ink movies from my tablet PC with high frame rate screen capture, then voice over and then the whole thing converted to Flash; embedding such a mini-lectures inside a WebCT Vista quiz question, so that the one can meld presentation and assessment; designing Excel exercises where students "construct" graphical solutions to economic problems and have those automatically graded; customizing those exercises so each team of students gets their own personalized version; providing content surveys that again blend content and assessment but in this case put in a story telling component to the course; and having students make such content surveys as a course project, an alternative to a term paper.
Methodologically, this is quite an arsenal. The issue is mapping that arsenal onto the subject matter of the course. There is a lot of math modelling in the course. And there is no way around that. In the freshman course I did that only very little and concentrated much more on the story telling aspect. That was a winning approach. I'd like to do the same here but want to cover the requisite material. Landsburg's text may offer part of the solution. I'll have to take a look at that. However, I really would like to at the least assess student work online and I don't particularly want to rely on a textbook when I do that, because whatever I develop will be tied to something a publisher knows.
In subsequent posts I'll elaborate on possible teaching experiements in this course.