The ability of economic thinking : the “nature” versus “nurture” debate

Tang, Tommy & Robinson, Tim (2009) The ability of economic thinking : the “nature” versus “nurture” debate. In Proceedings of The Quantitative Analysis of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education in Business, Economics and Commerce, Teaching and Learning Unit, Faculty of Economics and Commerce, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Victoria, pp. 13-31.


In their studies, Eley and Meyer (2004) and Meyer and Cleary (1998) found that there are sources of variation in the affective and process dimensions of learning in mathematics and clinical diagnosis specific to each of these disciplines. Meyer and Shanahan (2002) argue that: General purpose models of student learning that are transportable across different discipline contexts cannot, by definition, be sensitive to sources of variation that may be subject-specific (2002. p. 204). In other words, to explain the differences in learning approaches and outcomes in a particular discipline, there are discipline-specific factors, which cannot be uncovered in general educational research. Meyer and Shanahan (2002) argue for a need to "seek additional sources of variation that are perhaps conceptually unique ... within the discourse of particular disciplines" (p. 204).

In this paper, the development of an economics-specific construct (called economic thinking ability) is reported. The construct aims to measure discipline-sited ability of students that has important influence on learning in economics. Using this construct, economic thinking abilities of introductory and intermediate level economics students were measured prior to the commencement, and at the end, of their study over one semester. This enabled factors associated with students' pre-course economic thinking ability and their development in economic thinking ability to be investigated. The empirical findings will address the 'nature' versus 'nurture' debate in economics education (Frank, et aI., 1993; Frey et al., 1993; Haucap and Tobias 2003). The implications for future research in economics education will also be discussed.

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ID Code: 32438
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Assessment, Economic education, Learning outcome, HERN
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > ECONOMICS (140000) > OTHER ECONOMICS (149900) > Economics not elsewhere classified (149999)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Economics & Finance
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2009 [please consult the authors]
Deposited On: 01 Jun 2010 22:26
Last Modified: 05 Jan 2011 13:59

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