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TITLE:  CONCEPTUAL ANALYSIS IN ECONOMICS

AUTHOR:  Lavonna Faye Dodd, Healdton High School
         P.O. Box 217,  Fox, OK 73435

OVERVIEW:  To imbue students with their own personal views
about economic policy is not the proper function of a teacher.
By using Conceptual Analysis, an approach that I developed,
students may meet the challenge of productive growth for our
country through an increased understanding of economic
problems of the United States. Students will have the
opportunity to think critically and should be able to make
logical decisions.

GRADE LEVEL/SUBJECT:  9-12, economics, history, government,
law, etc.  I designed it for a societal economics class for
college bound seniors and found it to be an effective method
to make economics live for my students.

PURPOSE:  The purpose of this activity is to involve students
in making decisions and pursuing their own interests within a
social and economic environment.  Students should develop
skills such as critical thinking, decision making, and
assertiveness; attitudes, intuition, and the kinds of knowledge
and understanding that will enhance continuous change and growth.

OBJECTIVES:  As a result of this activity, the students will:
  1.  Devise an opinion poll listing pros and cons pertaining
to an economic policy.
  2.  Debate opposing economic issues that will lead to a better
understanding of a particular economic policy.
  3.  Write a critique of the issue their group discussed.  They
are to express how their group handled the topic listing both
pros and cons.  They are to state their own opinions and how
they reached their conclusions.  Also, let them give their ideas
about using the Conceptual Analysis process--if it was beneficial
to them or not.

RESOURCES/MATERIALS:  Supplemental economic texts, pamphlets,
library resources, and computer on-line database searches should
be available for the students to use in their research.  Allow
class time for the groups to work together.  The teacher could
use a liquid crystal display during the lectures to present
material graphically, etc.  This is also a good time to use a
multimedia program for a review before testing or to reinforce
a concept. Involve students in developing the multimedia project
by putting their work on diskette.

ACTIVITIES:
  1.  Divide the class into several small groups.  Explain the
objectives.
  2.  Group members select a topic they wish to work with from a
list prepared by the teacher.  A selection of topics could be as
follows:
    <1>  The federal government should guarantee a minimum
annual income to all its citizens.
    <2>  The U.S. should have advertising in order to create
mass production.
    <3>  The U.S. should pursue a policy that will strengthen
public enterprise.
    <4>  The federal government should pursue a policy to control
inflation.
    <5>  The U.S. should take steps toward achieving a more
nearly balanced budget.
    <6>  The federal subsidization of agriculture should be
 eliminated.
    <7>  The federal anti-trust policy should be strengthened.
  3.  Each group prepares a list of pros and cons for their topic. 
    For example, Group 1 chooses topic number 2 and states: 
    "Advertising is Necessary."  Their compiled material might
include these facts:
                              PROS:
    <1>  Provides information to use in making rational choices.
    <2>  Supports national communications media.
    <3>  Stimulates product development.
    <4>  Provides disclosure of product integrity for successful competition.
    <5>  Expands production and utilizes greater economics of scale.
    <6>  Promotes employment by inducing high levels of consumer spending.
                              CONS:
    <1>  Uses persuasion, not information, as the basic objective.
    <2>  Contributes to gross misallocation of resources.
    <3>  Entails significant social costs.
    <4>  Stimulates buying on an emotional level rather than
         rational appeal.
    <5>  Promotes unreasonably high costs per unit.
    <6>  Reduces total quantity of goods consumers can buy.
  4.  Each group devises a Concept Inventory relative to the topic.
Use the inventory as both a pre-test and post-test.  Group 1 might
present a poll similar to this:
        
            ADVERTISING IS NECESSARY
  Indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree with each
statement.  Use the following abbreviations:  SA--Strongly Agree;
A--Tend to Agree; U--Undecided; SD--Strongly Disagree; and D--Disagree.
    <1>  Once started elimination of advertising has deteriorating
effects on sales.
    <2>  Advertising redistributes income rather than increasing income.
    <3>  In some industries advertising is such a large part of costs
that it constitutes an important financial barrier.
    <4>  Advertising helps to create demand and adds to sales,
consumption, investment, jobs, mass production, and profits.
    <5>  Although the majority of advertisers are honest, some are
unscrupulous.
    <6>  Advertising is unnecessary and wasteful. 
    <7>  The cost of advertising increases consumer prices.
    <8>  An economic benefit of advertising is that it creates many
jobs for many people.
    <9>  Advertising adds little or nothing to the well being of society.
    <10> Advertising is misleading.  Some is helpful and informative,
and some is meaningless.
    <11> Advertising should be studied carefully as a guide in buying.
    <12> State laws are effective in providing barriers against
deceptive and fraudulent advertising.
Conduct the inventory poll prior to any discussion.  It is then
re-given following classroom discussion to see how many opinions
were swayed or changed after refuting the concept.  The teacher's
role becomes that of consultant now.  The possible swaying of
opinions as a result of open discussion is the instructor's only
interest in the inventory; therefore, students should omit names
from the tests.
  5.  Class members need to be seated in a circle and have two
chairs in the center which are called "hot seats."  You now want
any two class members to occupy these chairs.  This does not
necessarily mean the group who prepares the issue.  One chair is
for the student who says that advertising is wasteful and
unnecessary; the other is for a student who feels advertising is
necessary.  If you are unable to get a student to volunteer for
one chair, have the other student state his proposition.  This
should elicit a response.  When class members are hesitant, the
teacher may function in this capacity.  After the initial
hesitancy, students will normally respond quite willingly.
Both chair occupants use evidence such as fact and opinion and
deductive and inductive reasoning in presenting his case.  
  Before a discussion begins, the instructor should make a
contract with the class.  The contract states there will be no
verbal contributions at any time from students not in the "hot
seat."  If a person decides he would like to fill one of the
chairs, he simply taps a "hot seat" participant.  If that person
wishes to retire, he returns to the circle.  When an argument is
mounting, have the students exchange roles and play the other
side of the issue.  The contract method should eliminate any
discipline problem that might otherwise occur.
  Discussion of a particular concept may continue until the
teacher decides no additional benefit is to be derived.
  6.  After thoroughly discussing the issue, give the opinion
poll.  Then develop the class composite for both the pre-test
and post-test.  Tally the scores by giving a +3 for each strongly
agreed check mark, a +2 for agreed, and a 0 for undecided.
Subtract from this positive score a -3 for strongly disagreed
marks and a -2 for disagreed.  Report the findings to see if
there was a significant change.  A positive increase for Group
1 indicates that more students feel advertising is necessary for
mass production now than before the discussion.  A decrease shows
students now feel that mass production is possible in the U.S.
even if there is an elimination of advertising.  
  7.  The teacher should spend some class periods lecturing on
this issue tying all these points in with the principles of
economics stated in the textbook before presenting another topic.  

TYING IT ALL TOGETHER:  Each student writes a critique of the
issue his group discussed expressing how he feels his group
handled the topic.  Also, include a brief description of
Conceptual Analysis in analyzing economic concepts.  Ask the
student to tell how he feels the group communication helped in
gaining insight into views of opposing issues.  In grading, check
the overall content including the student's ability to express
himself and his ability to show insight gleaned from the
discussion.   Also, check for neatness, grammar, and the
student's grasp of material presented in the lectures.  Administer
an objective test from the text as part of the grade.


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John Kurilecjmk@ofcn.org