In June 2019, I attended a presentation by Robin DeRosa on open pedagogy at the SUNY Conference on Instruction and Technology. She provided a very compelling discussion on the benefits that students receive when they are actively engaged in the creation of educational content for a public audience. Immediately after her presentation, Rebecca Mushtare and I approached Robin about providing a workshop on open pedagogy at SUNY Oswego and invited her to appear on our Tea for Teaching podcast series. These interactions convinced me to offer the students in my spring 2019 capstone seminar the option of engaging in an open pedagogy project.
On the first day of the spring semester, the class collaboratively built the syllabus for this class. In the past, students individually worked on semester-long individual term papers (in addition to other learning activities). This year, I offered the class an option or working on writing a book together. I suggested three options:
- developing a textbook on behavioral economics (a topic that past classes found very interesting),
- a collection of individual essays providing an economic analysis of current policy issues (this would have been most similar to the projects completed in past iterations of the class).
- they collectively agree on another option.
The class decided on the third option. After discussing a variety of possibilities, they quickly reached a consensus on a project investigating the causes and consequences of growing income inequality and declining income mobility. In a whole class discussion, an outline was developed consisting of 9 chapters. Students were given the option of either forming their own groups or being assigned to groups. In our second class meeting, the groups met to discuss their preferences. Each group was given 100 points that could be used to bid on their preferred chapters. If a group strongly preferred one chapter, they could place all 100 points on that. The highest bidders were assigned to each chapter in turn. Each group, fortunately, was able to receive one of its top 2 choices.
This book is the result of the collaborative efforts of the 27 students in the Spring 2019 Seminar in Economic Theory and Policy at SUNY-Oswego.