Akam, D.U. , &  Iguma, P. G. Follow us on FACEBOOK @ Liveloveeconomics USEFULNESS OF ECONOMETRICS LABORATORY IN UNIVERSITIES ...

Akam, D.U., & Iguma, P. G.

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·         Introduction.

·         Challenges facing economics student and how they miss out with or without econometric laboratory.

·         The importance of econometric laboratory.

·         Benefits of using econometric laboratory.

Increasingly, the use of computers and software instruction and learning in econometrics classroom has improved the research aspect of the students and their interest toward the study of econometrics. Teaching in such classroom is both exciting and daunting: exciting because the new technologies promise the possibility of better teaching; daunting because the technology and it promise pose new challenges and create new pitfalls for teachers of econometrics (Murray, 1999). Over the years, teaching & learning of econometrics has been influence by computer technology and software. It is important to know that professors who have access to modern computer have influence the teaching and learning of econometrics and statistics in the classroom positively. With the use of computers and user-friendly econometric software, econometrics problems are solved easily without spending much time on calculating solution.

Computing resources in econometrics classroom possess a significant impact to the students taught in econometrics laboratory. Econometrics laboratory benefits researchers (such as undergraduate students, graduate students, and analysts) who are interested in econometric modeling like problems of robustness in estimation and inference, semi-parametric econometrics models, linear & nonlinear time series, panel data econometrics and a whole lot. Computationally intensive econometrics and the provision of equipment will significantly strengthen teaching and research. Computer-based teaching of econometrics enhances the students’ skills; so they can progress from binary events in a Bernouli model with independent draws to model selection in non-stationary data in a year-long course which closely integrates theory and empirical modeling (Hendry and Nelson, 2010).

READ ALSO: Econometrics

Econometrics laboratory at the University of California at Berkeley stated that the lab is a state-of-the-art and highly service-oriented computing facility that provides extensive, server service, comprehensive user support and is committed to provide the best possible computational hardware and wide selection of statistical, mathematical and econometric software for its users. The laboratory is used by undergraduates, graduates, faculty members and analysts for research in quantitative economics and econometrics. The laboratory should be equipped with office chairs; computer desks, laptops, network laser printers, projectors, projection screen, server and blackboard.

Challenges facing economics students and how they miss out with or without econometric laboratory

Teaching empirical econometrics analysis of large and complicated models can be demanding but Hendry, D.F., & Mizon, E. (2016) discussed how it can be improved by nesting so-called “theory-driven” and “data driven” approach, not confronting the complications, and hence discovers what matter empirically while retaining the best available theory insights. As it is important to learn econometrics theoretically, it is also mandatory to learn the practical aspect of it. The practical aspect helps the students with examples of real data.

Some main challenges facing econometrics students as follows:
·         In most universities, the laboratories are not well equipped and this has made it difficult for econometrics students to fully utilize the facilities. Unfortunately, more than 50% of the universities (e.g Nigeria), don’t have econometrics laboratory.
·         Power shortage in the laboratory is one of the main problems facing most universities. It requires constant electricity to make the personal computers function. Therefore, when there is power shortage, the PCs becomes useless. This will in turn limit students from getting the relevant knowledge from econometrics laboratory.
·         Another challenges facing econometrics students, is the issue of computer literacy. Most of the students have no idea about computer and its usage. Therefore, when they are brought to the laboratory, they find it difficult to make use of the facilities in front of them and in the end they are not able to participate in the laboratory session.

The importance of econometric laboratory

Over the years, econometrics laboratory has been of great significance due to its usefulness. This includes;
1.       Econometrics laboratory provides students with practical experience in order to preform calculations and conduct realistic simulation.
2.       Students are provided with laboratory exercise to practice the methods covered in the lecture.
3.       Econometric method that is being taught in a laboratory session, give students the opportunity to apply econometric software to the discussion of practical issues relating to empirical research.
4.       Teaching and learning in an econometric laboratory, allow the instructor to guide students through original research project and in turn students provides policy-relevant estimate to solve world economic problem.
5.       Econometrics laboratory provide computing power to those who will facilitate research especially those graduate students, many whom are heavily constrained.
6.       With avoidance of common mistake and better programming, students are provided with skill like graphing, regression analysis, and data manipulation in econometrics laboratory.
7.       With the existence of econometrics laboratory, weak students who are unable to get things fast in class or students who are unable to make it to class are sent videos and data base into their email for better assimilation.
8.       It allows the instructor the time for better control complicated econometric method.
9.       With the use of econometrics laboratory, researchers observe variables which are difficult to observe in a classroom.
10.   Econometrics laboratory help facilitate assignment that includes theoretical principles using econometric models, interpretation of results, computer exercise and database.

Professor Vesna Buevska in his paper “Teaching and learning econometrics in a computer laboratory: EmpiricalEvidence from TEMPUS CD­_JEP”, noted that with the massive benefit teaching econometrics theory in a computer laboratory, it also poses a number of challenges (shortcoming) and pitfalls for the instructors. He also noted in his article that the TEMPUS CD_JEP statistical methods for business and economics implement an online questionnaire, where students were asked to provide their personal opinion of the computer laboratory. Sixteen of them stated the following benefits from learning econometrics in econometrics laboratory.
1.       Personal approach to students. All students and especially weaker students receive attention.
2.       Focus on substance and not on writing down what the professor presents. Helps students pay more attention and engaged.
3.       Having the screen directly in front of students, made the material much easier to follow.
4.       Students can download free of charge lecture and exercise notes and lab manual from anywhere with any computer with internet connection.
5.       Having the lecture and exercise notes as well as the lab manuals on any computer on the internet results in more effective study.
6.       Through lab sessions students can actually use the various techniques they learn in econometric theory.
7.       Laboratory session give an opportunity to students to demonstrate their knowledge in another way (not only through exam).
8.       The empirical understanding of the concepts through labs is better than one gained by reading a textbook.
9.       Working with real data sets favors understanding of statistical and econometric methods and helps to develop students’ interest in the course.
10.   Current and easy to access information through internet resources.
11.   More information flow between students and instructors
12.   Students are more motivated and empowered by computers and software.                                                                                                                                               
In conclusion, there is no doubt that the benefits of teaching and learning in econometrics laboratory outweigh its pitfalls just as it has been seen in Professor Bucevska’s article. Econometrics laboratory with inadequate wireless and slow server poses great disadvantage to the students and researchers of a University. Universities (especially in Nigeria) should make econometrics laboratory available in order to encourage young researchers to take up researcher work in solving economic problem. Students should be encouraged to be computer literates and learn previous prerequisite leading to the study of econometrics. These will create positive attitude of the students towards the study of econometrics in the long run.


·         Bucevska, V.: Teaching and learning econometrics in a computer laboratory: Empirical evidence from TEMPUS CD_JEP “statistical methods for business and economics”.
·         Econometrics lab. Accessed 29 May 2018.
·         Fehr E.: Lecture 1: Advantages & limitations of lab experiments. Experimental & behavioral economics.
·         Ghysels, E.2018. Applied economic forecasting using time series methods. Oxford University Press.
·         Hendry, D. F., & Nelsen B.2010. “A modern approach to teaching econometrics.” European Journal of Pure and Applied Mathematics. Vol.3, 347-69.
·         Harmony D.M.: Potential challenges common to a laboratory teaching assistantship assignment and some possible solution. University of Nebraska.554-4807.
·         Hendry, D. F., & Mizon, G.E. 2016. “Improving the teaching of econometrics.” Cogent Economics and Finance, 4, 1-28.
·         Katrina, M. (2014): ECNS 560.01: Advance econometrics. Syllabi. 1247
·         Murray, Michael P.1999. “Econometrics lectures in a computer classroom.” Journal of Economics Education.
·         National Science Foundation. Accessed 29 May 2018.
·         University of California, Berkeley. Accessed 13 June 2018.



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