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Department Programs

Economics Department Rhetoric Program

This document discusses the principles and practices by which the economics major pursues the goals of the College Rhetoric Program for fluency in research and written, oral, and visual rhetoric. We have organized this discussion around the essential standards of the college program.

  1. Frequency and variety
    Our 200-level courses include a mix of reflection essay assignments, Christian perspective reflection essays, and academic article summary assignments (and other academic-journal-keeping). Some also assign public policy proposal statements, writing Op-Ed pieces, current economic news article summaries and analysis, country/ firm/ industry case studies, topical group or individual wiki pages, and group presentations. Our 300-level courses include essays on all exams (normally two midterms and a final), and a term research paper. Most 300-level courses also assign reflection essays and longer case study/academic article review assignments; several assign presentations, book reviews, and assignment-types listed above for 200-level courses. The required 300-level research methods course assigns a literature review (as do some of our other course term papers) and many statistical lab reports (as do our required intermediate theory courses). The required 300-level senior seminar involves several new academic essays assigned for each class meeting, substantial (2000 word) essay exams, several hour-long presentations for each student, and a structured research paper with opportunities for revision. 

    The rhetoric assignments in each course are of course related to the student learning objective of that course, which are available as a separate document.

    By passing through the required courses in the major, all students will have several experiences of each sort of rhetoric assignment, with special emphasis on reflection essays, academic article summaries, essay exams, extended case studies/article reviews, and research papers. It would not quite be accurate to say that students in our 300-level courses are always working at some form of assigned rhetoric, but it is nearly so.
  1. Feedback and Revision
    All of our rhetoric assignments offer the experience of feedback. Several of our courses emphasize revision, especially the required research methods course (a shorter midterm paper leads toward the final term paper) and the senior seminar (daily essays lead toward the essay exams and research paper). Peer review is also an essential part of the senior seminar and required advanced theory courses. Some courses, including the required research method and intermediate microeconomic theory courses, require consultations with the professor in the initial stages of development of the term research project.
  1. Integration throughout the major curriculum
    1. 151/221/222, 230s-240s: We acquaint students with basic research skills, including the Hekman Library’s sites developed for our discipline, and build on the research and writing skills that are taught in English 101/RIT. Our purpose is to build comprehension of the characteristic emphases and values of rhetoric in the economics discipline.  We also help students use economic theory to develop their voices as citizens, especially concerning economic topics and concerns.
    2. 320s-40s: In these intermediate and advanced level courses, we lead students progressively through the various kinds of writing and other forms of rhetoric that characterize the discipline. In particular, we orient students to economics-specific research databases, indexes, data sources, peer-reviewed journals, standards for analysis and presentation, and architectures of expression (such as the structure of a typical peer-reviewed published research paper). We compare the characteristics of writing in the economics discipline with those taught in English 101.
    3. Senior capstone course. In this course, students synthesize what they have learned in the major, including what they have learned about good, discipline-appropriate rhetoric. The term paper assignment specifically draws together knowledge of the Christian tradition with knowledge of the discipline. Students also have the opportunity to reflect upon, revise, and submit a research project started in an earlier course.
  1. Faculty Development
    All faculty are in agreement with this rhetoric program for the economics major, and are periodically involved in its review and revision.  It is reviewed by the department, along with our written student learning objectives, at a department meeting early in the fall term, and is available in a “policies” folder on the department common drive. We also have developed an assessment protocol, described below, that ensures regular review and discussion the types of rhetoric assignments that work best for each type of course and for the major as a whole. We maintain contact with our research librarian, Katherine Swart, when course development and revision involves research issues. We also regularly sponsor departmental faculty development opportunities, usually at least two each year, that bear on pedagogy and curriculum development, which have implications for written, oral, and visual rhetoric.
  1. Assessment
    We have developed a three-year cycle for assessment of our courses: the capstone one year, principles courses the next, and 230-346 courses in the third year. Our rhetoric program is assessed as part of this overall department assessment. The assessment involves relating measured outcomes to our written student learning outcome goals and their metrics, and also descriptively assessing our program by reviewing and discussing the type of rhetorical skill development opportunities that are currently being practiced in the courses.

Revised by the Department of Economics, November, 2014