October 18, 2016
Susquehanna University's Matt Rousu, chair and professor in the Department of Economics, has been awarded first place in Cengage Learning's Best in Class Award contest. The competition recognizes how economists practice the art of instruction, harness the power of engagement, and foster the spark of discovery in their classrooms.
Rousu was honored for his use of monetary incentives in introductory economics courses.
"One of the tenets of economics is that people respond to incentives," Rousu said. "Sure, in a hypothetical experiment people might try to do well, but it's a lot different when having just a little bit of money on the line."
In Principles of Microeconomics, Rousu's students pay in $12 at the beginning of the semester—an experiment lab participation fee.
"That money allows me to run a set of economic experiments that emulate real-world situations," Rousu said.
During the course, Rousu presents economic situations—i.e., how much to produce—to his students, who then attempt to determine the actions they should take to secure their own best outcomes.
Their ability to make the right strategic choices will result in either more or less money at the end of the semester.
"It incentivized me to study harder so I could turn a profit in the classroom, which ultimately led to me becoming a better student," said senior economics major Mark Harrel, of Clinton, N.J.
The Best in Class Award is sponsored by Cengage Learning and the National Economics Teaching Association (NETA). Winners are selected by the NETA board from numerous submissions. Rousu's first-place standing comes with a $1,000 prize, $500 for the department and a trip to the Economics Teaching Conference, held in November in Dallas, Texas.