The Handbook for Economics Lecturers

Various steps within the research process necessitate differing degrees of feedback with respect to the level of detail and the speed at which it is provided. Prompt feedback is especially critical during the first steps of the research process as students struggle to define a narrow enough topic and develop an associated effective economic research question. In this part of the course, shorter assignments that allow in-class peer feedback and next-class instructor feedback are critical for keeping students on task and moving forward on their projects. As the semester progresses, requiring students to hand in components of their projects rather than waiting for a draft of the entire report ensures that instructors have the opportunity to provide prompt feedback and allows students the time to reflect on the changes necessary to enhance the report. This is especially important because most students consider research to be similar to answering an essay question – linear in nature. By requiring the intermediate evaluation of report components, students can be introduced to the iterative nature of research and receive guidance before they have wasted efforts moving too far down a path that is less productive. While one report section is under review, however, students can forge ahead on other sections of the project providing the instructor time to make the detailed types of comments that are necessary to nurture students through the research process.

As suggested elsewhere in this chapter, feedback mechanisms such as grading rubrics that students complete and hand in with their drafts allow them to critique their own work and help tutors to provide prompt critical reviews. These practices are likely to enhance student understanding of the evaluation process. Figure 5 provides one example of a grading rubric that is presented here as an assessment of the final paper. It could also be divided into relevant paper sections and used as a component of the interim evaluation. Students’ self-assessment and peer reviews help to mitigate the workload falling on tutors.

Figure 5: Grading Rubric for Final Paper

  Excellent Good Poor
Outline      
Abstract      
Introduction Excellent Good Poor
Statement of topic and importance - defines your topic and provides insight for the reader as to the importance of your work.
Comments:
     
Definition of concepts - includes a definition of relevant terms and organisations.
Comments:
     
Description of relationships - provides a basic introduction to the relationships across concepts that will be considered in your paper.
Comments:
     
Statement of proposition - describes the hypotheses you will be investigating and your expectation as to the specific relationship expected. This should also provide a set up for your contribution section.
Comments:
     
Organisation of the paper - tells the reader what is to come and how you will tackle the problem you have set up.
Comments:
     
Review of Literature Excellent Good Poor
Introductory paragraph
  Provides transition into literature review from introduction section Introduces idea as one studied previously...in what ways...Introduces the literature review itself... alludes to presentation organisation.
Comments:
     
Review presentation organisation
  You need to have an organisation that makes sense such as chronologically or by topic.
Comments:
     
Articles included
  (Thesis/main question, methodology, results, conclusions) Relevant parts highlighted for link to your work Clear understanding of article analysis and results.
Comments:
     
Summary/transition paragraph
  Summarises literature succinctly Provides a link to your project as a transition into the contribution section.
Comments:
     
Contribution Excellent Good Poor
Provides a transition from literature review into contribution. This typically begins with a statement of what will be demonstrated in your analysis.
Comments:
     
Provides a road map for the reader. In other words, it outlines sub-questions (components) that will be used to build evidence for hypothesis, relates them to the overall hypothesis and describes the process that will be used in presenting evidence.
Comments:
     
Evidence presented for each sub-question. This evidence must be clearly related to the sub-question and convincing to the reader.
Comments:
     
Summary of evidence in relation to the general hypothesis. This is the point at which you weigh all the evidence and determine whether it supports your hypothesis.
Comments:
     
Brief comparison of findings to previous research to the extent that this is relevant. May appear in different places throughout section.
Comments:
     
Effective use of tables, etc. (when applicable but note that even non-quantitative papers benefit from this form of evidence summation for the reader). This implies that tables can stand alone.
Comments:
     
Caveats
Comments:
     
Conclusion Excellent Good Poor
Brief description of your topic and hypothesis.
Comments:
     
Synthesised evidence for hypothesis.
Comments:
     
Research put into perspective - topic and beyond.
Comments:
     
  Excellent Good Poor
References (inclusion and format)      
Mechanics      
  Organisation      
    Overall flow of ideas      
    Within paragraph flow      
    Sentence structure      
  Grammar, etc:      
    Spelling, grammar, punctuation and typos      
    Use/overuse of quotes      
  Audience      
    Appropriate level of language use and knowledge assumption      
  Professional and formal, rather than chatty and casual
Comments: