Weighing value vs. cost, Economics Teachers Conference is a ‘no-brainer’

Barbara Witt loves teaching economics and personal finance.

So much so, she made the six-and-a-half-hour drive from Chincoteague to Radford University to participate in the second annual Economics Teacher Conference.

There, she and other teachers from around Virginia worked with Radford University Department of Economics faculty members Dan Farhat and Thomas Duncan to learn tips and techniques for teaching the subjects.

“Anytime I have an opportunity to learn something new, I go for it, and I’m always looking for new teaching methods,” said Witt, who teaches at Chincoteague High School. “I’ve learned some new tricks and tips here.”

Middle and high school teachers face plenty of challenges developing economics and personal finance lesson plans that are interesting for their students. That was the impetus that drove Farhat and Duncan to create the conference two years ago.

The two-day session, hosted by the university’s Department of Economics, was designed for secondary school educators who teach economics in Virginia schools. Conference registration has been free each year.

“Rarely do we get to go a conference like this that doesn’t cost us or our school system a lot of money,” said Michelle Carter, an economics and personal finance teacher at Tunstall High School in Pittsylvania County. “Radford is paying for the conference and for our lodging. They’ve treated us to lunch and dinner. For me, it was a no-brainer for me to come to this conference, and I’m sure it was for my school system.”

The conference provides teachers an opportunity to meet with peers and explore key topics in economic theory that are essential for students to learn before they enter college. Participants learned about resources and teaching approaches during their time working and studying with Duncan and Farhat.

“This conference helps us to have more clarification about what we are teaching,” Carter said. “And it helps us to understand that if we’re teaching the course the way we’re supposed to, our students will know what to expect when they get to college and study economics.”

Topics covered at this year’s conference included:

  • Scarcity and opportunity cost
  • Decision-making at the margin
  • Adam Smith and the market economy
  • Economic growth
  • Entrepreneurship
  • American economic history
  • The great recession
  • The government and economics
  • Globalization and trade
  • Ethics in the market system

After successfully completing both days of activities, participants received a certificate of completion, and were eligible to receive credit for 10 contact hours, subject to approval by their respective school administrators.

“We really appreciate Radford providing this conference,” said Jenny Oldham, a middle school math teacher at Gretna Middle School. “It’s difficult sometimes to get recertification points and find classes that are interesting and affordable. So, Radford sponsoring this is great for us.”


Aug 15, 2018
Chad Osborne