Labor Economics
Penn State University

Getting Started

With the semester fast approaching, I wanted to bring your attention to a few things before we officially get underway. I wanted to provide some early information so that you are aware of the course expectations and can switch classes if you aren’t able to complete the requirements this semester.

I will go over important parts of the course on Day 1, however, we will also start covering some material on the first day. I will post redacted slides on Canvas for you to print and bring to class and you should have these printed for the first day of class.

Econ 315 Course Site

  1. I'll talk very briefly about the layout of the course on the first day, but we’ll jump right into the material on the first day, so make sure that you come to class prepared. For each lesson, I will post redacted slides on Canvas, which you should print beforehand. I also recommend purchasing some colored pens or markers (I like these). You don't need to bring your books or course pack to class. Just reading the slides will not ensure you have all the material we cover inside and outside of class.

  2. I recommend signing up for the Morning Brew, which will deliver a digest of important news topics to your inbox each morning. We may talk about some items, they may appear on exams, or you could use them in your Packback posts.

  3. I will e-mail you A LOT during the semester. I will send emails through Canvas and directly to your PSU email address. If you don’t want to use your PSU address, please make sure that you’ve setup email forwarding so that you get all emails from me. Please check the announcements tab each time you login to Canvas. I recommend updating your Canvas preferences to get daily digests rather than individual emails each time something changes in your courses. You'll receive an email from me when the course officially opens (the week before classes begin).

  4. I have very high expectations for students in all of my courses, which is good to know before we begin the course. This course will be different from other economics course offerings and will feature a significant amount of reading throughout the course. I will provide chapters from various books as well as articles and blogs about various labor market topics. You are also expected to read the entire book, New Geography of Jobs and We Wanted Workers. My main responsibility is to push you to be the best individual you can be. I ask that you commit at least 7-9 hours of work outside of class each week. If you don’t think you can commit to that for the upcoming semester, please consider taking this course another semester.

  5. Most of my notes are an outline of the textbook (Modern Labor Economics by Ehrenberg & Smith), but I have posted a PDF copy in Canvas. If you prefer a physical copy, you can rent an eBook for this course for around $70 or you can find older editions online for less than $30. There are also multiple copies on reserve at the library. Our main text will actually be the two smaller readings and a variety of articles online. These readings will be covered in an online discussion environment called Packback and we will have weekly short essay quizzes over the chapters throughout the semester. During the first week of class, I will send a roster to Packback and they will create accounts for you. 

  6. This course does have a written project that is completed during the second half of the course. While the actual paper is only 4 pages long, many of you may benefit from a writing guide. I recommend you consider reading through Deirdre McCloskey's book, Economical Writing. It will provide some tips and tricks about writing that you may find helpful. At 112 pages, most of you should be able to read it fairly quickly. While geared toward writing in economics, some of the lessons can be applied to writing in other business-centric fields (like Labor Relations). This book is not required, but previous students have told me they found it helpful.

  7. I have created a course pack for the course that is about $30. This course pack has practice problems of a wide variety for each lesson that we cover through the course. We do not have problem sets in the course, so I recommend you work diligently through the workbook on your own. There are answers at the back of the workbook and there will be a Guided Study Group session held each week to cover the "how to" of the questions.

  8. You will want an iClicker for this class. You should register your clicker online before we begin the semester.

  9. We will use Canvas for our course site and all information/assignments will be posted there.  It is organized based on the assignments and will includes all reading sets, project information, and exam review information. I will be add material throughout the semester. All of your redacted slides will be posted to Canvas.

  10. I occasionally tweet economics stuff that can be beneficial to you. You can follow me on Twitter (don't feel obligated). 


I look forward to another great semester!