Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

My research in the scholarship of teaching and learning involves understanding and evaluating the different ways we teach students. I am particularly interested in undergraduate research experiences and the role community engaged learning can play in facilitating these kinds of experience.

I am also interested in understanding what we mean when we say “undergraduate research” and the role it plays (or should play) in an undergraduate curriculum – particularly in the social sciences.

Published and Forthcoming

Understanding the Hybrid Classroom in Economics

How do we create effective hybrid classrooms in which all students can participate completely?

Graves, J. L., Hasan, E., & Varao-Sousa, T. L. (2024). “Understanding the hybrid classroom in economics: A case study.” International Review of Economics Education, 45, 100282.

Abstract: This paper examines the implications of learning in the hybrid classroom for intermediate economics instructions, particularly in courses which use statistical or mathematical tools. We compare two cohorts (online and in-person) of a hybrid economics course in terms of their experiences and outcomes. We also highlight and explore the utility of new teaching technologies (such as JupyterHubs) and peer learning for teaching this material – particularly in terms of homogenizing experiences across in-person and online students.

Course-based Versus Field Research Experiences

Is it better to get research experience as part of a course, or working as an RA (in the field)?

Graves, Jonathan. 2021. “Course-Based Versus Field Undergraduate Research Experiences.” Teaching and Learning Inquiry 9 (2).

Abstract: This paper compares undergraduate course-based research experiences to field-based research experiences in order to understand the relationship between these different forms of experiential learning. I study undergraduate research experiences across an economics department at a large Canadian research university. Statistical analysis indicates that there are not large differences between field and course-based experiences. The main differences favour course-based instruction, with course-based experiences associated with more independent thinking and relevant task engagement. Overall, I conclude that curriculum designers should focus attention on proper course-based curriculum design, rather than simply trying to adapt “research-like” experiences into the classroom

Previously titled: Understanding Undergraduate Research Experiences in Economics: An Exploratory Study. Last update: 13-1-2021

Working Papers

Optimal Assessment Weighting: A Backwards Approach

How much weight should be place on an assessment, such as a final exam, when assigning grades?

Abstract: In this paper, I discuss a fundamental concept for all instructors: how do we weight the different assessments within our course in order to evaluate students effectively? Using a combination of statistical and pedagogical tools, I describe conditions for weighting assessments which result in (i) minimum statistical bias (in terms of difference of assessed achievement versus actual), (ii) maximum precision, and (iii) optimal trade-offs between precision and bias, when a perfect assessment is infeasible. I conclude that optimal assessment weighting closely parallels the “backwards” design of curriculum, requiring a tight correspondence between learning objectives, syllabus structure, and assessment rubrics. I also demonstrate that many commonly suggested weighting schemes are not optimal unless a very large emphasis is placed on formative learning experiences in a course.

  • Presented at the 2020 UBC CTLT Winter Institute: see the presentation here.
  • Presented at the 2021 ISSOTL Conference in Perth, Australia (October 2021)

Previously titled: Optimal Summative Assessment Weighting. Last update: 5-1-2022

In Progress

Metacognition and Learning Activity Choice

Does making leaning activities like recorded lectures available hurt students?

Abstract: This paper studies the relationship between student decisions about learning activities and metacognitive skills. Many courses offer students options for different learning experiences, such as watching a recorded lecture instead of (or in addition to) attending lecture. In a situation in which students are accurate judges of their own learning, these kinds of options can only improve learning and student stress. Yet students often display large and systematic mistakes in their assessment of learning and in judging which activities are most valuable. The result is that students with low metacognitive skills will over or under utilize different optional activities, resulting in either worse performance or more stress (or both). This paper investigates this issue theoretically and experimentally, focusing on student use of lecture recording in the classroom.

The Effectiveness of Office Hours: A Causal Approach

Do office hours work?

Supported by a 2019 SOTL Seed Grant

Abstract: This paper examines the effectiveness of office hours in undergraduate economics instruction. Office hours are commonly used, but their evaluation is challenging: students who are stronger or weaker than average preferentially visit office hours, creating selection bias in simple comparisons of students who visit office hours when compared to those who do not. By exploiting the structure of student course scheduling, and conditioning on schedule timing, we are able to use availability of office hours to correct for this bias

Other Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Publications

(Last update: 17-1-2024)