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Boat Market
Principles of Economics

Virginia Tech

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 so that you're more comfortable when classes start.


Our Canvas course will include an orientation module that provides more specific details about assignment grading and course policies. If you ever have questions about course material, please stop by during office hours once the semester begins. I'll unlock our Canvas course and post an announcement when everything is ready.

Econ 2005
Course Site

10 things you should know before the semester begins:

  1. I will only spend a few minutes highlighting the syllabus on the first day of class. We'll have a coursepack available for the course that I highly recommend. The coursepack is a set of redacted slides that I will follow every day of the course! I'll have more information about this coursepack as we get closer to the start of the semester, but if you're looking for some good markers to help you take notes, I recommend these.

  2. This course will be taught completely in person, and an online/Zoom option will not be available this semester. A portion of your final grade is based on attending class and actively participating during class. We'll use the iClicker Cloud program to answer polling questions throughout the semester. This program is slightly different from the old iClicker remotes which won't work for our course. You can participate with your laptop or with an app on your phone, but you don't need to sign up for iClicker Cloud until our course officially opens on Canvas.

  3. This course (and my teaching style) is VERY different from other courses at Virginia Tech, including other sections of Econ 2005. The most notable difference is that my section has a heavier reading/discussion component than the others, which will often be conducted outside of class. The university's expectation for the amount of time you spend on this course is around 6 hours of work outside of class each week. 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 standard.

  4. Assignment weighting in this course may be different from a lot of your other classes. Instead of placing a large weight on exams, I set aside a very large portion of your grade to be based on weekly small-stakes assignments. One of those weekly assignments is a discussion board platform known as Packback. When the time comes, I recommend purchasing your subscription directly from Packback because it will be cheaper than other access codes you may find at the bookstore. If you're using Packback in other courses (or you used it in previous classes), Packback will 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 completed on the MyEconLab platform. The total cost of the service is around $105 (plus tax). The bookstore may offer an access code, but you can get it cheaper directly from the publisher. Your online access includes a digital copy of the textbook, but you may want a physical copy too. You can rent a physical copy from the publisher, but it's very expensive. If you want a physical copy in addition to the digital copy, I recommend purchasing an older edition on AmazonYou don't need to register for MyEconLab until our course is officially open on Canvas, but you should purchase a physical copy of the book before classes start if you want a physical copy.

  6. There is one smaller book that we will read together for this course: Think Like a Freak. This book will introduce ways that 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. You should purchase this book before classes start.

  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 other 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 meant to give you an early look at the semester ahead. Each week I will post an announcement in Canvas highlighting 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 VT email address, you can set up email forwarding so that you get all emails and announcements from me in your preferred inbox. When you setup your online accounts (MyEconLab/iClicker/Packback), you should still enter your VT email address. 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, iClicker, MyEconLab, Packback) increases the possibility that you may experience some technical difficulties over the course of an entire semester. If the resources in the classroom (or your own personal equipment) aren't functioning that day, you are still responsible for all of 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 instead of relying on the Canvas to-do list.

  10. Lastly, I'm very passionate about economics education. I occasionally tweet economics stuff that you may find interesting or post interesting class-related things on Instagram. I've recently written a book on learning economics from Parks and Recreation and I write a weekly newsletter on economics in current events. You're not obligated to follow any of these accounts, but you're welcome to interact with me as much or as little as you're comfortable. 

    I am really looking forward to this semester and I hope you enjoy your next few months with me.

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