Boat Market
Introductory Microeconomic Analysis and Policy
Penn State University

Welcome to the Course!

The start of the semester is coming up soon, but I wanted to let you know a few things about the course before we officially begin. My hope is that you're aware of the course expectations before we begin and can switch classes/sections if you don't think you're able to complete the requirements this semester. 


I've designed a syllabus module in Canvas for you to review on your own when the course is available. If you have questions about the syllabus material, please stop by office hours once the semester begins. I'll post an announcement in Canvas (which you should receive as an email) about a week before classes begin.

​Some important things to know before the semester:
  1. I will only spend about 10 minutes highlighting the syllabus on the first day of class. I'll spend the rest of the time going over the first lesson of the course. I highly recommend that you purchase a coursepack (costs around $18) for the course because it will save you a lot of time later in the course. This packet is a set of redacted slides to help you follow along with the material. I will follow the coursepack every day of the course. If you're looking for some good markers to help keep the color coding consistent, you should consider these.

  2. I plan to teach our course this fall in a hybrid mode, which allows you the opportunity to attend either in person or through Zoom. If you do not feel comfortable attending in person, or if you don't want to fully follow any of Penn State's Covid-related policies, you should attend the course through the Zoom option. A portion of your grade in the course is based on attending class during the scheduled time, however, you can earn that credit through either modality. Office hours will be held only through Zoom. 

  3. I have very high expectations for my students, which is good to know before we begin the semester. This course (and my teaching style) is VERY different from other sections of Econ 102 at Penn State. The most notable difference is that my section has a heavier reading/discussion component than the others. We all cover the same material, but we go about it in different ways, in different orders, and with different assignments. At the end of the semester, our grades are normalized to a department-mandated range. My main responsibility is to push you to be the best student that you can be. The university's expectation for the amount of time you spend on this course is around 7 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 or taking a different section.

  4. The weighting of this course is different from other sections. Instead of placing a large weight on exams, I set aside the majority of your grade on weekly assignments. One of those weekly assignments is a discussion board platform known as Packback. I recommend purchasing your subscription directly from our Canvas course because it will be cheaper than other access codes you may find. If you're using Packback in other courses (or you did in previous classes), they'll give you a discount on our class. You don't need to sign up for Packback until our course is officially open on Canvas.

  5. Your textbook, homework assignments, and exams will be available through the MyEconLab platform. The total cost of all three will be $99 (plus tax). The bookstore may offer an access code, but you can get it cheaper directly from the publisher. Your textbook is digital, but you are welcome to purchase a physical copy online if you'd like one. If you want a physical copy, I'd suggest getting an older edition. You don't need to register for MyEconLab until our course is officially open on Canvas. 

  6. There is one common reader for the course: Think Like a Freak. This book introduces how economics can be applied to a wide variety of areas and will introduce the concept of "thinking like an economist." You can use the topics in this book to help you with Packback discussions and questions that may appear on exams and during in-class polling. Used copies of this book are available on Amazon for less than $10 and I have placed a number of copies on reserve at the Paterno Library.

  7. I cannot stress enough how often you can find books online for significantly cheaper than at the campus bookstore. For most classes, you can find used copies or older editions that work just as well. Be sure to check with your instructors to see! Even if you need to purchase a new copy of something, Amazon is almost always a better deal. If your family does not have Amazon Prime, you can sign up for an Amazon Student account and get prime benefits for free for 6 months. This way you'll save on books AND on shipping costs. You can even have packages shipped to your dorm.

  8. We will use a number of platforms during the course, but you should consider our Canvas course as the "hub" for all of the other sites. This website is just to give you an early look at the semester ahead. Each week I will post an announcement in Canvas to highlight important information for that week ahead. I may also email you directly about various topics as the semester progresses. If you don’t want to use your PSU email address, you can set up email forwarding so that you get all emails and announcements from me in your preferred inbox. I recommend updating your Canvas preferences before the term starts so that you receive daily digests from your courses rather than individual emails each time something changes in your courses. 

  9. Taking a course with a heavy emphasis on technology (Canvas, Zoom, MyEconLab, Packback) increases the possibility that you may experience some technical difficulties over the course of an entire semester. The way to minimize the impact of those disruptions is to ensure that you are working ahead of deadlines when possible and completing all of your assignments so that you can drop assignments that aren't completed because of a technical malfunction. The Zoom option of the class should not be used as a replacement for physical class attendance. If the materials in the classroom aren't functioning that day, you are still responsible for the material covered that day. Given the structure of the course, there are no extensions or makeup assignments this semester. Because there are so many regular assignments throughout the semester, I recommend getting into the habit of using a planner

  10. One of the best ways to stay engaged in learning is to sign up for some regular news digest. Given the number of current events that link back to our content, we may cover many of these in class. Two of the favorites that I recommend are the Morning Brew and The Flip Side. If we talk about these topics in class, you may find them included as questions on exams or TopHat quizzes. These also tend to be great topics for discussion board posts. 

  11. I occasionally tweet economics stuff that you may find interesting, but don't feel obligated to follow me. I have created a Facebook group for our class so that you can more easily meet and connect with other students in the course before we begin. In the past, this has also been a great place to share resources and ask questions during the semester. 

I am really looking forward to this Fall and seeing many of you back on campus.