Building Confidence in the Economics Classroom During a Pandemic

Fishing Game
Hawkes Games

During her 8+ years of teaching at Wesleyan, Dr. Ying Zhen has observed that many female students, especially those who are new to economics, are intimidated at the beginning of the semester. This observation, along with the large fraction (25%) of international students in Dr. Zhen’s courses, makes effective teaching a very important part of her job.

As a result, she believes effective economics professors should do well in two respects. First, they should help students build confidence at the very beginning—in particular, building confidence among female students and getting them interested in economics should be the priority. Secondly, they should serve as a good guide for students. It is the professor’s responsibility to use creative ways to stimulate students’ interests, help them better understand the materials, and illustrate how to apply textbook knowledge to real life.

Effective teaching requires instructors to adopt the most appropriate teaching methods and strategies for their audience and the topic. To meet these goals, Dr. Zhen focuses on four things in her teaching: being encouraging and enthusiastic with her students, class preparation, tailoring her teaching to the audience in order to stimulate their interest, and using different teaching methods.

About the Presenter: Dr. Ying Zhen is Associate Professor of Business and Economics at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. She earned a B.A. in Media Economics at Communication University of China in 2007; M.A. in Economics from Clark University in 2009; and Ph.D. in Economics from Clark University in 2012. Her major fields of specialization are labor economics and industrial organization. Specific research interests include economics of immigration and music business. It was Dr. Zhen’s honor to work with Professor Alan B. Krueger of Princeton University on the Survey of Well-being of Musicians in the United States from December 2017 to June 2018. Zhen considers economics a universal science, which should be open to everyone. Her ultimate goal is to help students see the world through the eyes of an economist, making them appreciate the beauty of economics and become civilized world citizens.