Teaching Consumer Theory to Business Students: An Integrative Approach

Dan Axelsen, Hal Snarr, Dan Friesner
    Economists teaching principles of microeconomics courses in business schools face a difficult pedagogical dilemma. Because the vast majority of students in these courses are business majors or minors who will not study economics beyond the principles level, these students need a different set of skills than what is taught in a traditional (liberal arts) setting, which is focused primarily towards economics majors and/or minors. In particular, business students need relatively less emphasis on the mechanics of neoclassical economic theory and relatively more emphasis on how economic tools and concepts form the basis for (and are subsequently integrated into) other business fields, including (but not limited to) marketing, management and finance. This paper presents a case study illustrating how instructors can more effectively teach principles of microeconomics when the majority of students in the course are business majors and/or minors. We use consumer theory as an example. Our goal is to not only describe why principles of microeconomics courses fail to adequately introduce and explain utility and demand theory to this cohort of students, but also to demonstrate how course content can be altered such that learning outcomes are enhanced.

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