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Volume 1, Issue 1, June 2019

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Research Articles

Job Attribute Preferences of Undergraduate Agricultural Majors—Do They Match with Careers in Grain Merchandising?

Keith D. Harris and Brian C. Briggeman

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Volume 1, Issue 1, Pg. 1-17, Posted Online: June 26, 2019

Abstract: The purpose of this study is to gain a better understanding of student job attribute preferences for grain merchandising careers. Undergraduate students in the College of Agriculture at Fort Hays State University and Kansas State University responded to a choice-based conjoint survey that captures students’ expectations about grain merchandising careers. Parameter estimates from a conditional alternative specific constants logit model are used to estimate willingness to accept changes in salary for preferred job attributes. Results suggest that students have strong preferences for working in rural locations and working at smaller companies and have professional growth opportunities. The students exhibited less of a preference for frequent performance feedback and oral communication, and a focus on risk management and analysis. These results should inform faculty advisors of the important attributes of grain merchandising and help agribusinesses to improve employee recruitment techniques and employee retention.

Keywords: Conjoint survey, grain merchandising, job preferences, willingness to accept

Teaching and Educational Methods

Assessing Student Learning Using a Digital Grading Platform

Andrew W. Stevens

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Volume 1, Issue 1, Pg. 18-24, Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Abstract: Effective assessment of student learning is challenging for several reasons. Not only do learning assessments usually crowd out instructional time, but it can be difficult to assess higher-order cognitive aspects of student learning. In this commentary, I present a method for assessing student learning through the use of a digital grading platform that addresses both of these issues. I discuss a case study where this method was implemented and utilized to inform course design, and I argue that digital grading platforms expand instructors’ options for student learning assessments.

Keywords: Assessment, digital grading, student learning objectives

Calculating and Interpreting Percentage Changes for Economic Analysis

Matthew A. Andersen

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Volume 1, Issue 1, Pg. 25-31, Posted Online: May 30, 2019

Abstract: A strong understanding of calculating and interpreting percentage changes and growth rates is critically important for economists. This is because many fundamental concepts such as the time value of money, and many commonly reported economic measures, such as the rate of return on assets, price inflation, and measures of economic growth, require a firm understanding of percentage changes. This paper presents a brief primer on calculating and interpreting percentage changes and growth rates. The purpose is to illuminate these measures, facilitate their interpretation, and clarify their usage for economic analysis.

Keywords: Growth rates, percentage change

Enhancing the Teaching of Product Substitutes/Complements: A Pedagogical Note on Diversion Ratios

Oral Capps, Jr. and Senarath Dharmasena

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Volume 1, Issue 1, Pg. 32-45, Posted Online: June 6, 2019

Application of diversion ratios in demand analysis has received little attention. Even microeconomic textbooks typically do not address this topic. The literature review presented here shows use of diversion ratios, along with cross-price elasticities, to study the price effects associated with mergers and acquisitions, a practice recommended to measure product substitutability/complementarity. With the aim of expanding experiential learning in the fields of applied economics, agricultural economics, and agribusiness, this article demonstrates how diversion ratios can be calculated from any uncompensated own-price and cross-price elasticity matrix derived from the analysis of demand systems, and it discusses the teaching of this concept in the classroom. 

Keywords: Diversion ratios, demand systems, cross-price elasticities, identification of next-best substitutes

Teaching Undergraduate Economics: Emphasize Early the Meaning of Vertical Distances and of Their Summation Over Quantities

Matthew G. Interis

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Volume 1, Issue 1, Pg. 46-51, Posted Online: June 26, 2019

Abstract: Many important economic concepts—for example, deadweight losses, market surplus measures, and concepts preceded by the word “total”—are graphically depicted as areas. Although many students can identify areas like total surplus appropriately in simple circumstances such as when a market is in equilibrium, many struggle to do so when the circumstances are even slightly more complex, such as when a market is not in equilibrium. The reason may be that many students do not understand how these areas are graphically derived. In this commentary, I discuss simple adjustments instructors can make to emphasize the economic meaning of vertical distances and of their summation over quantities so that students can better identify graphical representations of economic concepts even in more complex circumstances.

Keywords: Graphing, principles, teaching, welfare

Case Studies

Occupational Health and Safety Issues at Agribusiness Retailers

Erik Hanson and Michael Boland

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Volume 1, Issue 1, Pg. 52-59, Posted online: June 17, 2019

Abstract: This case explores efforts to improve occupational health and safety at RRV Cooperative, a fictional agricultural cooperative located in the upper Midwest. Students are introduced to the operations of farm supply and grain marketing cooperatives and to fundamental concepts in occupational health and safety. Students are asked to analyze data and consider the challenges in changing personal and group habits. Background information presented in this case offers additional teaching opportunities regarding trends in the farm supply and grain marketing industry and U.S. production agriculture.

Keywords: Agribusiness, consolidation, cooperatives, health, safety

Teaching and Education Commentaries

Let's take a moment to celebrate great teaching!

James A. Sterns, Ph.D.

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Volume 1, Issue 1, Pg. 60-66, Posted Online: May 23, 2019

Abstract: This commentary uses the history of the teaching awards program of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (AAEA) to examine the AAEA’s commitment to the teaching mission of universities with undergraduate programs in agricultural and applied economics. Through an archival review of AAEA historical documents, it describes an evolving commitment. It also identifies, from the author’s personal perspective, several awards program benefits and raises several concerns about potential biases in the selection of awardees. The commentary is, above all, a tribute to teaching and to AAEA teaching award recipients—past and future.

Keywords: AAEA, archival review, biases, teaching awards

Moneyball in the Academy: Whiffing on the Quality of Education?

Paul N. Wilson

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Volume 1, Issue 1, Pg. 67-70, Posted online: May 30, 2019

Abstract: In recent years, corporate-like resource management tools have become commonplace on many university campuses with the goal of improving economic efficiency at the organizational level. Administrative initiatives that calculate faculty and department value with a limited number of metrics jeopardize the relational and hence the learning environment of higher education, particularly at the undergraduate level. Mutual faculty-student engagement remains a critical component of a quality education.

Keywords: Faculty evaluation, quality of education, responsibility-centered management, teaching