Clark Ross, Frontis W. Johnston Professor of Economics, and Sally Meek, an award-winning high school Advanced Placement (AP) economics teacher from Plano, Texas, have created a full-length AP macroeconomics course, made available via edx.org as a massively open online course (MOOC).
"This new, full-length course builds on the AP Macroeconomics Challenging Concepts course that we launched last July," said Julie Goff '05, project manager for Davidson Next. "With both versions, we hope to serve a wide range of high school students who may or may not have an AP macroeconomics teacher at their high school."
Less than a quarter of U.S. high schools offer an AP macroeconomics course. However, students may choose to study on their own and then take the AP exam.
Davidson Next is a Davidson College initiative that aims to supplement AP instruction with online modules designed for in-class, blended instruction. With support from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and together with partners, including the College Board, edX, 2Revolutions and the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system, Davidson is creating AP content and piloting instructional techniques in high schools. Modern States Education Alliance contributed funding that made the full AP macroeconomics course possible.
Goff said the course is designed specifically for high school AP students, and it is not just a repackaging of an existing college-level introductory economics course.
"We want to make sure that a student's success in an AP program does not have to depend on the level of resources available to them at their respective high schools. Technology makes it possible for all students to have access to highly-regarded AP macroeconomics instructors," she said.
"Developing this course was very rewarding, as we were able to take our well-received 14 ‘Challenge Concepts' and with additions and transitions produce an entire and comprehensive course," said Ross. "It has been a personal and professional pleasure to collaborate with co-editor Sally Meek. We also have 10 excellent lecturers giving presentations, including three with direct Davidson connections. Students and teachers worldwide can use this course to access and master this economics content, both within and outside the context of AP macroeconomics."
Topics in both AP macroeconomics courses are organized into bite-sized pieces -- with short instructional videos, interactive graphs and practice problems. The high school teachers and college faculty who collaborated with Ross and Meek also helped design the AP curriculum, in partnership with the College Board.
Davidson Next AP macroeconomics instructors with Davidson ties include Assistant Professor of Economics Shyam Gouri Suresh, Professor Emeritus of Economics Dennis Appleyard and Stephanie Eichenbrenner Vanderford '99, an AP teacher at Providence Day School in Charlotte.
Ross, a former dean of the faculty and vice-president for academic affairs, has been active in the College Board's Advanced Placement Economics program since its inception in 1988. From 1998 to 2005, he served as chief faculty consultant for the program. He currently serves as the co-chair of the AP Macroeconomics Test Development Committee and offers frequent workshops for AP economics teachers. In 2007, Ross and staff project manager Suzanne Grzeszczak founded the Davidson College Advanced Placement Institute. Each summer, 250-300 high school AP teachers work with College Board-approved consultants and Davidson faculty on AP curriculum content and teaching strategies.