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 so that you're more comfortable when classes start.


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

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. I'll start teaching on the first day of class, and I highly recommend that you purchase a course pack (costs around $18) for the course before the first day of class. This course pack is available at the campus bookstore and will save you a lot of time later in the course. I will follow the course pack 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 semester in a semi-hybrid mode. This will allow 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 only be held through Zoom. 

  3. This course (and my teaching style) is VERY different from other courses at Penn State, including other sections of Econ 102. 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 6-7 hours of work outside of class each week. 

  4. Assignment weighting in this course is different from a lot of your other classes. Instead of placing a large weight on exams, I set aside the majority of your grade on weekly small-stakes 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 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 available through the MyEconLab platform. The total cost of all three will be around $99 (plus tax). The bookstore may offer an access code, but you can get it cheaper directly from the publisher. If you want a physical copy of the textbook, I'd suggest getting an older edition online. You don't need to register for MyEconLab until our course is officially open on Canvas. 

  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 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 Zoom option of the class should not be used as a replacement for physical class attendance. 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. I occasionally tweet economics stuff that you may find interesting and I also write a weekly newsletter on economics in current events but you shouldn't feel obligated to follow me. I am really looking forward to this semester and seeing many of you back on campus!