Improving Instruction and Learning in Higher Education Using an “Expected Proficiencies” Approach
This book describes the author’s approach to undergraduate education, one that focuses on the “expected proficiencies in the college major” (Hansen 1987, 2009). This approach emphasizes what students need to be able to do with their content learning and intellectual skills immediately after graduation from college. The author describes how he designed, implemented, and taught a one-semester “proficiencies-based” economics course whose wide-ranging learning activities are illustrated by the comprehensive course syllabus. The author believes this approach can complement recent proposals for the reform of liberal education advocated by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U 2007) and by Former Harvard College President Derek Bok (2020).
Expected Proficiencies for Undergraduate Economics Majors
The case for adopting a proficiencies approach to instruction and learning in the economics major is reiterated. This approach focuses on what graduating majors should be able to do with the knowledge and skills they acquire in the major, that is, their ability to demonstrate their learning in practical ways. The author's list of five proficiencies, advanced in the mid-1980s, is reviewed and revised; one additional proficiency is added and several others are refined. The author discusses the emphasis given to these proficiencies with top economics undergraduates at two major research universities, the author's experience with incorporating these proficiencies into his instruction, and the challenge of assessing the ability of economics majors to demonstrate these proficiencies.