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Volume 1, Issue 2, December 2019

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Research Articles

An Authentic Learning Approach to Group Assignments: An Analysis of Student Attitudes

Roger Brown, Na Zuo, Jordan Shockley, and Steven Buck

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Volume 1, 2019, Posted online: December 10, 2019
Pages: 1-13
doi: 10.22004/ag.econ.300069

Abstract: Using a difference-in-difference estimator adapted to include student fixed effects, we examine whether exposure to an authentic, business-oriented approach to group assignments improves student attitudes about working in groups. Our results show that, compared with a traditional approach, students exposed to the business-oriented approach had significantly improved attitudes about group assignments in general. Specifically, students indicate that forming groups was more authentic and likable, individual grading processes were fairer, and scheduling group meetings was easier. We also identify the marginal effects for these improved attitudes and show that the relevant factors are, in descending order of importance, improvements to group scheduling, group formation, and individual grading.

Keywords: Authentic learning, students, teaching, teamwork

Valuing College Graduate Attributes and Skills: Employer Willingness to Pay as Elicited through Design Valuation

Ryan Feuz and F. Bailey Norwood

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Volume 1, 2019, Posted online: December 11, 2019
Pages: 14-30
doi: 10.22004/ag.econ.300070

Abstract: Design valuation (DV) is a new valuation method adapted from the Build-Your-Own (BYO) method used within the marketing literature. Within design valuation, subjects design their optimal good by selecting various attributes at select prices. Through a DV survey of college graduate employers, interval-censored willingness-to-pay (WTP) data are collected for 10 college graduate attributes. Both tangible and intangible attributes are evaluated. Average WTP estimates for the college graduate attributes are estimated relative to the type of college (agricultural, business, engineering, or other) from which the employer prefers to hire recent graduates. A high degree of character, ability to work well with others, and excellent communication skills are among the most highly valued attributes. In general, we find that intangible attributes such as these are valued higher than tangible attributes, which require relatively less subjectivity to determine. This finding points to the importance of the job interview, which is often the best tool employers have to evaluate whether candidates possess these intangible attributes. Analysis of the DV survey results will help academic advisors prepare students for the job market and students to better align their own goals with development of specific skills and attributes to increase their marketability and return on education investment on entering the job market.

Keywords: Academic advising, human resources, interval-censored data, non-market valuation

Outstanding Seniors: Where Have All the Young Men Gone?

Paul Wilson and Na Zuo

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Volume 1, 2019, Posted online: December 17, 2019
Pages: 31-42
doi: 10.22004/ag.econ.300071

Abstract: The gender gap reversal in higher education, first noted in the early 1980s, has evolved into an educational policy issue due to its persistence. We explore the gender gap among outstanding graduating seniors within a college of agriculture and life sciences. Our investigation found a predominance of female outstanding seniors in the college, including in STEM-like, male-dominated academic majors. We attribute this significant gender gap to national behavioral trends (e.g., male disadvantages in non-cognitive skills) and to organizational changes within the college.

Keywords: Gender Gap, Outstanding Seniors, Undergraduate Education

Teaching and Educational Methods

Teaching Competition Topics: Applications of Seller Market Power in Agricultural Industries

Yuliya V. Bolotova

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Volume 1, 2019, Posted online: September 30, 2019
Request Teaching Notes
Pages: 43-63
doi: 10.22004/ag.econ.300072

Abstract: The article presents a simple theoretical framework that can be used to explain conduct and performance of agricultural industries and seller market power in these industries. The framework components include a linear inverse demand function, a constant marginal cost function, and a set of measures of costs, revenue, and profit. The theoretical framework is consistent with agricultural supply and price cycle, and the decision-making process of agricultural producers. The theoretical framework is used to develop applications for the U.S. peanut and potato industries represented by two problem sets provided in the teaching note, which also includes four sets of assessment questions. The article discusses implementation and practical applications of the proposed teaching activity. The target audience includes students taking undergraduate courses in agricultural economics and agribusiness programs as well as extension and outreach audiences.

Keywords: Agricultural marketing, competition, peanut industry, potato industry, seller market power

Teaching and Education Commentaries

The Project Manager / Private Contractor Approach to Group Assignments

Roger Brown, Na Zuo, Jordan Shockley, and Steven Buck

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Volume 1, 2019, Posted online: December 16, 2019
Supplementary material
Pages: 64-73
doi: 10.22004/ag.econ.300073

Abstract: We describe an authentic approach to group assignments whereby instructors act as corporate officers in the classroom and assign tasks to student leaders who act as project managers. These student leaders, in turn, recruit and supervise groups of their peers who act as private contractors. This approach attempts to accommodate three known student preferences for group assignments. One, students want to be involved in the group formation process, but often instructors form student groups, and then ask groups to select their leader. We propose instead to let the entire class select its own leaders and then let each leader form a group from the remaining students. Two, students want control of their individual grades, but often instructors lead efforts to assess individual contributions based on incomplete student feedback. We propose instead to let student leaders lead these efforts subject to constraints prescribed in advance by the instructor. Three, students prefer easy scheduling of their group meetings, but often they must coordinate most or all of their group meetings out of class. We propose instead to let students schedule most or all of these meetings in class. We conclude by discussing two limitations related to class size and distance learning.

Keywords: Authentic learning, students, teaching, teamwork