Learning Goals for Economics Majors

As part of the Undergraduate Student Learning Initiative (USLI), the Economics Department has developed the following learning goals for the Economics major. The USLI is a campuswide initiative to support departments in establishing educational goals and evaluation procedures for all undergraduate programs. As a result of the initiative, faculty and students will have a shared understanding of the purpose of the major and what graduating seniors are expected to know or to be able to do at the end of their course of study. The initiative is in keeping with the fundamental principle at Berkeley that the evaluation of student achievement should be locally defined, discipline specific, and faculty driven.

Economics is the study of how people make choices under conditions of scarcity and the results of those choices for society. Limited resources make tradeoffs necessary for consumers, businesses, and nations. Microeconomics studies how consumers make choices in using their time and spending their income, and how businesses make choices in producing and selling goods and services. Macroeconomics studies the determination of national income (GDP), and how it deviates from its potential (full employment) over the business cycle. The important outcomes for the national economy are income and how it is distributed, unemployment, inflation, economic growth, and how well financial markets and international trade are functioning. Economics is important in studying the impact of government policies, ranging from regulatory activities in individual markets to general measures for stabilizing and steering the economy at large. The effect of alternative economic policies on the welfare of the population is a core concern in economics. Undergraduates should have the following knowledge and skills when they graduate with an Economics major from UC Berkeley. The Economics Department wants our majors to have knowledge of economics principles with the skills to apply this knowledge in the following ways:


I. Critical Thinking Skills

CT1. Apply economic analysis to evaluate everyday problems.

CT2. Apply economic analysis to evaluate specific policy proposals.

CT3. Compare two or more arguments that have different conclusions to a specific issue or problem.

CT4. Understand the role of assumptions in arguments.


II. Quantitative Reasoning Skills

QT1. Understand how to use empirical evidence to evaluate an economic argument.

QT2. Interpret statistical results.

QT3. Conduct appropriate statistical analysis of data, and explain the statistical problems involved.

QT4. Obtain and/or collect relevant data using specific qualitative and/or quantitative research methods.


III. Problem-Solving Skills

PS1. Solve problems that have clear solutions.

PS2. Propose solutions for problems that do not have clear answers, and indicate under what conditions they may be viable solutions.


IV. Specialized Knowledge and Application of Skills

SP1. In specific content areas (fields) of economics, develop deeper critical and quantitative thinking skills and apply problem-solving skills to complex problems.


V. Communication Skills

CS1. Communicate effectively in written, spoken, and graphical form about specific economic issues.

CS2. Formulate a well-organized written argument that states assumptions and hypotheses, which are supported by evidence.

CS3. Present an economic argument orally.


VI. Lifelong Learning Skills

LL1. Possess a working knowledge of information data bases (e.g., Econ Lit, Nexis-Lexis)

LL2. Know how to locate and use primary data sources (e.g., BLS Household Survey, UN Human Development Index)

LL3. Understand and evaluate current economic events and new economic ideas.

Mapping Learning Goals to Courses

Each semester instructors of undergraduate courses state on the syllabus the most important learning goals that students develop in the course. The department collects the syllabi and updates the learning goals matrix each semester. The Undergraduate Committee annually reviews the learning goals for courses to ensure consistency and to evaluate how well the curriculum provides adequate opportunity for majors to achieve mastery of all learning goals before graduation.

A matrix that shows how majors achieve mastery of the learning goals in the core courses and upper division electives is provided below.

        Learning Goals: Core Courses

        Learning Goals: Upper Division Electives