ATTITUDE OF STUDENTS TOWARDS THE STUDY OF ECONOMETRICS IN UNIVERSITY - A Personal View

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ATTITUDE OF STUDENTS TOWARDS THE STUDY OF ECONOMETRICS IN UNIVERSITY - A Personal View 


"This should be chemistry class" I thought to myself as I beheld the figure and data which look like chemical formulas on the marker board as the professor scribbled on with his back to the class, then I notices the familiar faces about me and that of the professor, whom I have been told is to lecture on econometrics that semester. This was my first encounter with the course econometrics.



Econometrics is one of the central pillars of the economics discipline, providing the avenue through which we confront economic ideas with observation (Phillips, 2013). It is an evidence - based analysis that is fundamental to all sciences, including social science and business.


Econometrics is important because it provides necessary tools to the economists to derive useful information about economic policies - its problems and solutions, using available data(Read more).The study of econometrics provides the learner with the following but not limited


·         To provide an introduction to the nature and uses of empirical investigation in economics.
·         To enable students to apply statistical technique to the estimation and testing of economic models and thereby providing them with the skills necessary to undertake their own empirical studies and evaluate empirical work in the publish literature.

Adu (2012) sees attitude as internal beliefs that influence personal actions which is learned through one’s experience. This has to do with a disposition to act or react in a particular way as the individual responds to a situation (Amoo & Rahman, 2004).


Students more often, judge their teachers base on communication ability, the choice of appropriate teaching method, classroom management and knowledge of the subject matter. A teacher who is rated high on these indices in the perception of students is likely to enjoy the confidence, respect and admiration of students (Adu et al, 2014).


The failure of the course “econometrics” is overwhelming each year both in the undergraduate and graduate level. Most students tend to complain about the course. There have been reports of students with the opinions that range from; I don’t like the course; the course is too hard; the lecturer is a sadist(he doesn’t allow questions in class) and  a whole other lot. These complaints most times discourage new students who are given admission into the department of economics. This phobia of the course grows from undergraduate level to graduate level.


Most doctorial (PhD) students complain that they were not given the opportunity to do application in their previous learning of econometrics which till date affects the empirical part of their research papers.


The problem regarding the learning of econometrics has been in existence before current PhD and MSc students knew what the course entails. What are the factors affecting the attitude of students studying econometrics, how can we resolve the problem, how can we lead young economics students and analysts to have positive interest in the study of econometrics. These are the questions we will answer in this article.


Factor affecting student attitude toward econometrics



TEACHERS KNOWLEDGE OF THE SUBECT MATTER
Fennema and Frank (1992) posited that the knowledge of the subject matter is an indicator to teachers teaching effectiveness. A teacher should be able profess his/her subject well. A teacher with a deep understanding of the concept to be taught is more likely to use unambiguous language (Uyi, 2011). Adu (2012) study showed that effective knowledge of teacher on the subject content can lead to better understanding by the students and elicit a positive perception.


Study has shown that teachers knowledge to economics content as a whole relate significantly with students attitude towards the subject. The econometrics teacher inability to comprehend the course will definitely lead to confusion in the classroom. Students become bored and lose interest in the learning of the course and thereby leading to a negative attitude toward the course. Teachers are measured by the capability and credence they possess during teaching.


Econometrics being technical for beginners, the success or failure to understand the course has an unending effect in the empirical anchor of the discipline of economics. Department board should be confident of the ability of the teacher before handing over him/her the course to teach.


The understanding of econometrics by the teacher instigates confidence in the students. The students become more acquainted with the course and will become apt in acquiring the knowledge that is being disseminated by the teacher.


TEACHING METHOD
Adu et al (2014) posited that the use of appropriate teaching method incorporates an ordered way of accomplishing an end or performing a task. According to Umoren (2001) in a research on method, suggested that the ability of the teacher to impart knowledge so depend greatly on the method he applies during the teaching learning process. Where the method is defective, the students stand to lose as they do not benefit from the lesson.


It is required to know that not all teachers with the adequate knowledge of the subject matter are good in making choice of appropriate teaching method. A teacher with knowledge of the subject and little or no skill in the act of teaching will lead to a negative attitude of student toward learning.


Adu et al (2014) denoted that students are more active when teachers adopt appropriate method to teach them. They posited that learning is known to be an active process, the more the students are actively involved the more they develop positive attitude towards what they learn and how they apply the knowledge and skills effectively.


Teachers are advised to find appropriate method(s) that will not only get student(s) to understand the course but also find a way to carry along the weak students. In a classroom the weak students are more likely to lose interest when they are not actively involved in it. It results to a negative attitude towards the course.


THE BACKGROUND STUDY OF MATHEMATICS AND STATISTICS
Peter Phillips a professor of econometrics denoted that like any other subject in economics, econometrics often seems technical to beginners and demands some training in mathematics and statistics. Sowey (1983) in his article, defines econometrics as an aspect of applying statistical methods to economic data for the purpose of testing theories and of forecasting and controlling the future path of economic variables. The attitude a student gets from the study of econometrics depends solely on previous knowledge of mathematics and statistics. The previous knowledge depends on the competence of the teachers and interest of the learners.


Becker and Greene (2001) gave some statistical concepts a student in economics have difficulty in learning. They include: probability, sampling and sampling distribution, hypothesis testing, regression to mean.  Peter  E. Kennedy posited that students do not understand the basic logic of classical statistics as captured in the sampling distribution concept because they have always viewed statistics as a branch of mathematics which involves mathematical formulae, so they view statistics through mathematical lens. He also denoted that students are missing the statistical lens through which the world is being viewed.


The appropriate teaching and learning of various concepts in mathematics and statistics has a significant impact on the students attitude towards the study of econometrics. Concepts like expected mean, probability, central limit theorem, method regression, correlation, methods of estimation, statistical hypothesis testing, logarithms, matrices, differentiation and integration, among others will be helpful to students’ effective learning of econometrics and if learnt appropriately, will lead to a positive attitude toward the study of econometrics.


DYNAMISM OF THE TEACHER
Becker and Watts in Backer and Greene (2001) wrote


‘‘Problems set are used more heavily in statistics and econometrics courses than any other undergraduate economics course. Surprisingly, however, the applications are rarely based on events reported in financial newspapers, business magazines or scholarly journals in economics. Instead, they appeared to be contrived situations with made-up data, as in textbooks that are characteristic of the chalk- and – talk  teaching methods predominant across the undergraduate curriculum in economics ’’


Students are easily bored especially when they realized that the problems given to them by the teacher are made up data.  This can also lead to a negative attitude towards the learning of econometrics.


Teachers are meant to update themselves each year they take up the course so as to ensure effective learning among the students.
The course econometrics involves empirical building, forecasting, algorithm, computation and some conceptual issues. The learning of econometrics now benefits from different software. Teachers should engage students with data analysis at the early stage of learning so as to provide them with skills necessary to undertake their empirical studies and evaluate empirical work in the future. This will encourage the students to learn more and in turn lead to a positive attitude toward the study of econometrics.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that teachers knowledge in subject matter, their their instructional strategies, previous learning of statistics and mathematics by the students and dynamism of the teacher, relate significantly with students' attitudes towards econometrics. Teachers are implore to increase the use of  computer and softwares  for instruction and learning in the classroom in order to get the students interested in econometrics. Robert P. Murphy denoted that economists should familiarize themselves with the concept of statistical power to better appreciate the possible pitfalls of existing empirical work and to produce more - accurate research in the future.




REFERENCES


*    Adu,E.O.(2012). Two Problem Based learning Strategies for Teaching Economics. LAMBERT Academic Publishing. 978-659-13539-6.
*    Adu,E.O., Galloway,E., Olaoye,O.,(2014). Teachers' Characteristics and Students' Attitude Towards Economics in Secondary Schools: Students' perspectives. Mediterranean Journal of social science.
*    Amoo,S.A., & Rahaman, M.A.(2004). Secondary school students' attitude of learning mathematics in the world of information technology. Implication for mathematics teachers and teacher preparation. In Proceeding of the 42nd Annual Conference of the Science Teachers association of Nigeria,178- 182. Ibadan.
*    Becker,W.E., and Greene,W.H.(2001). Teaching Statistics and Econometrics to undergraduate. Journal of Economic perspectives, November 4, pp.169-182.
*    Fennama,E.& Franke. M.I. (1992). Teachers' knowledge and its impact in: D.A. Grauws(Ed.) Handbook of research on mathematics teaching and learning. A project of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 147-164. New Yorks MacMillan.
*    Handry,D.F., and Mizon,G.E.(2016). Improving the teaching of econometrics. Convent Economics & Finance,4: 1170096.
* Peter,E. Kennedy. Teaching Undergraduate Econometrics : A suggestion for Fundamental Change. The American Economic Review. May.pp 487-492.
*    Sowey, E.R. 1983. " University teaching of Econometrics: A personal View". Econometrics Review. May,2.pp.255-289.
*    Uya.A.O.(2011). Teacher's Characteristics and Student attitude toward mathematics in Senior Secondary of Oron Constituency of Akwa Ibom State. Unpublished M.Ed Dissertation. University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
*    Vasna Bucevska: Teaching and learning econometrics in a Computer Labouratory: Empirical Evidence from TEMPUS CD_JEP " Statistical Methods for Business and Economics"

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