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Spring 2015
ISSN 0890-913X
Volume 30, Number 1

Using NPR's Planet Money Podcast in Principles of Macroeconomics

William J. Luther , Kenyon College
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TheJournalofPrivateEnterprise30(1),2015,143154UsingNPRsPlanetMoneyPodcastinPrinciplesofMacroeconomicsWilliamJ.LutherKenyonCollege______________________________________________________AbstractUnfamiliarwithaggregateconceptslikegrossdomesticproductandinflation,manyintroductorystudentsstruggletounderstandthebigideasinmacroeconomics.Macroeconomiceducatorstypicallyrespondwithboringlecturesaimedatbringingstudentsuptospeed,orbyjumpingtotheinterestingtopicstheirstudentsarenotyetpreparedtoconsider.Inanefforttocombatthisproblem,IhaveincorporatedNPRsPlanetMoneypodcastintomyPrinciplesofMacroeconomicscourse.Idescribethepodcastandprovidealistofepisodesothersmightfinduseful.Inmyexperience,studentsenjoylisteningtotheassignedepisodes.Theyreportthatthepodcastmadethemmoreinterestedintheprinciplescourse,helpedthemunderstandtherelevanceofmacroeconomics,andincreasedtheirunderstandingofmanymacroeconomicissues.Moststudentsalsofeelmorecomfortablediscussingmacroeconomicissueshavinglistenedtothepodcast.Andnearlyhalfofthosestudentssurveyedsaytheywillcontinuelisteningtothepodcastafterthecourseends.______________________________________________________JELCodes:A1,A22Keywords:macroeconomics,NationalPublicRadio,PlanetMoney,podcasts,teachingI.IntroductionBenSteinsmonotonouslectureontheeffectsoftheHawley-SmootTariffActispainfultowatch,butitpointstoabigproblemmacroeconomicseducatorsface.IncontrasttoPrinciplesofMicroeconomics,wherestudentsencounterdecisionssimilartothosetheymakeeveryday,PrinciplesofMacroeconomicsrequiresconceptualizationofunfamiliaraggregateconstructslikegrossdomesticproductandinflation.Asaresult,manystudentsfinditdifficulttounderstandthebigideasinmacroeconomics.Sincestudentsdonotknowenoughaboutthecoreconceptstoconsiderinterestingquestionsfromtheoutset,manymacroeconomicseducatorslimitthemselvesattheprinciplesleveltoboringlecturesaimedatbringingstudentsuptospeed.Others,likeStein,droneon143
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