The Handbook for Economics Lecturers

5.3 Encourages students to undertake projects that have personal relevance and interest

Students learn best when they are engaged with the subject material. Research projects that provide students with great latitude in developing their investigative question or that make the work they are doing personal provide the greatest opportunity to engage students. For example, in a labour economics course students can be asked to develop an analysis of labour force participation decisions using their own family members. In choosing a family member that they know less about (as opposed to their parents) students often discover work patterns and decisions of which they were completely ignorant, and they learn how to apply theoretical principles in the process. Typically, data are gathered through interviewing various family members and this in turn generates insights into alternative methods of evidence and data gathering techniques. For more information on such techniques, see Geertz (1973) and Van Maanen (1988).