The Economics Network

Improving economics teaching and learning for over 20 years

Results of the 2009 Economics Network Survey of Lecturers

Executive summary

This is a summary of the report and analysis of the Economics Network Lecturers survey, carried out in April - May 2009. The full report is available as a PDF.

This survey is part of the centre’s research programme into teaching and learning in Economics, along with the Student, Alumni and Employers surveys. The main objectives of this survey included clarifying current practices and issues of concern to Economics lecturers and their students, as well as providing the Economics Network and its stakeholders with information about how economics lecturers use our services and what impact it has on their teaching.

This is an observational survey and was conducted online for ease of use and low cost. There were 18 questions, in 3 sections, including free-text commentary.

Profile of respondents

There were 198 respondents from 70 HE institutions across the UK. The results of the survey describe our typical respondent as:

  • Male (69.2%)
  • First language English (73.7%)
  • In the post of Lecturer or Senior Lecturer (56.6%)
  • With more then 10 years of experience in teaching in HE (53.0%)
  • Having one or more of the administrative roles (82.8%)

Key results

A. About Teaching Economics

When asked about support or advice for their teaching, the majority (79.8%) report receiving advice from colleagues; 47.9% from a central university Education Development/ Support Unit; 41.9% from Economics Network and 9.5% stated that no support was required. Respondents also commented on various sources of advice and support.

When asked about funding received for a teaching/learning project, nearly three quarters of respondents report that they haven’t received any. Among those who succeeded in obtaining funding 12.1% received funding from the Economics Network and 15.6% from their university.

Respondents were asked if they had received a teaching award and 15.7% gave positive answer with the awards coming from the Economics network, HE Academy and institutions.

B. Change in teaching practice

Since 2003 in all our lecturers’ surveys we have asked respondents if they have changed their teaching practice in the past two years. Two thirds of respondents reporting a change in teaching practice this year. Reasons for change included: Feedback from students (83); Students skills and abilities (76); number of students (62); suggestions from workshops (44); colleagues’ suggestions (42).

In their comments lecturers described their reasons for change and their actions. This continuing trend for change of teaching practice due to various reasons increases the demand for services and resources provided by Economics Network.

C. Most important issues in teaching

Respondents were offered a list of current teaching issues and asked to select those which they and their colleagues consider very important (they could select as many issues as they thought relevant in their current teaching). Nearly two thirds of respondents chose Student maths skills and Student motivation as the most important issues, with half of the respondents mentioning Large number of students in lectures and Large tutorial groups. Another issue whose importance increased threefold in the last two years is Specific needs of international students.

As well as commenting on these issues, respondents wrote about the various pressures on their time and differential rewards for success in research and teaching.

D. Support from the Economics Network

Respondents were asked about the Economics Network’s services and resources. Nearly half of them (47.5%) replied that they use Economics Network services and resources and positively assessed their value.

We asked lecturers who hadn’t used Economics Network resources to comment on their reasons. The majority stressed “time” as a major barrier (“Time is the main constraint”) as well as satisfaction with their own teaching.

Those who had used Economics Network resources and services were asked to comment on how it had influenced their teaching and what improvements this made to student learning or educational experience. In their replies many respondents praised the work of the Economics Network and provided suggestions for its future developments.

Among their suggestions were the need to support students, which Economics Network is addressing through the development of two focused websites: Why Study Economics? to encourage potential students to study economics and Studying Economics to support current students.

Respondents were also asked to share the websites they recommend to their students and their replies will be used to update resources on the Studying Economics site.

Funds permitting, the Economics Network will explore some of the suggested ideas and look to provide the community with further resources and services, as well as highlighting policy issues through the HE Academy.

E. Specialist area networks

At the time of the survey the Economics Network was seeking UK-based academics to contribute teaching resources in their field as part of a HEFCE-funded Open Educational Resources programme. The project, ‘Teaching Resources for Undergraduate Economics’ (TRUE) covers 14 specialist areas. Respondents were asked if they would be interested in sharing ideas and materials for teaching in these areas. Two thirds of respondents replied positively and their names were passed to the leaders of the specialist groups.

F. Conclusions

Results of the survey demonstrated positive support from the community for the work of the Economics Network. They will also inform centre’s strategy and planning of the events, resources, briefings and publications in support of economics lecturers.

Read the full report (PDF)