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Experiencing Economics Through Problem Based Learning

Karen S Arul, Alex Lum, Angela Koh

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Many who profess to enjoy the study of Economics attribute this interest to the relevance it has to our daily lives. Economics is everywhere, as evident from the fact that it is largely derived from empirically observed human behaviour. Therefore, learning economics cannot be confined to lecture theatres, study halls and textbooks. An effective impartation process has to facilitate the student’s ability to apply the content appropriately by “plugging him/her” into a real world context.
     While the success of the above hinges on the student’s own attitude and aptitude to understand and apply, the pedagogy plays a critical role in realizing this outcome. This paper therefore looks at Problem Based Learning (PBL) as a bridging solution to the theory and assimilation of economics. The authors will provide insights on how PBL, which promotes critical thinking and learning, is used to effect stronger and more meaningful learning by turning economics into an experiential module. Students are intentionally taken out of their comfort zones at every lesson to question and solve thereby not only enhancing content absorption but also their retention capacity.

Author Bio(s)

Ms Karen S Arul
Karen graduated from the National University of Singapore with an Honours Degree in Social Sciences (Economics). She commenced her career in the civil service with the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore and subsequently moved on to the Singapore Economic Development Board, where she focused on inward investment, industry promotion & development, public finance and international collaboration.
     At The Republic, as the Module Chair of Economics in 05-06, she managed the creation, development and delivery of the economics curriculum through Problem Based Learning. As part of the Polytechnic’s Social Enterprise initiative, she also launched enterprise creation projects for the Tsunami victims of Galle, Sri Lanka.
     Karen also maintains her links with the industry through research and joint-projects in the areas of RFID, Strategic Communications and Fiscal Policy.

Dr Alex Lum
Dr Alex Lum received his PhD in Economics from the National University of Singapore (NUS). While at NUS, he taught first-year undergraduate Economics, was the President of the Economics Graduate Student Society and received the NUS President’s Graduate Fellowship for attaining the Top 1% of his cohort. He graduated from the University of Cambridge with an MPhil in Economics and worked in Financial Advisory Services, KPMG Singapore.
His current research includes:
* Singaporeans’ occupational choice in relation to their perception of Government-linked Companies
* Pro-entrepreneurship policies in Singapore
* Multi-National Corporations and education
* Technopreneurship, income inequality and social mobility.
At Republic Polytechnic, he facilitated the Enterprise Skills II module and currently facilitates the Microeconomics module and crafts problems for Economics and Business Statistics. He is the co-module chair for Microeconomics and the chair for the Macroeconomics module, and lead advisor for the Business Climate Interest Group.

Ms Angela Koh
Angela obtained her Honours Degree in Social Sciences (Economics) at the National University of Singapore. Since then, she has worked in various Finance-related fields, including the provision of financial and strategic consultancy work for KPMG Consulting.      She also has an interest in studies on low income segments of the population, and has worked with various Church organisations and the Ministry of Community, Youth and Sports (MCYS), the main Government agency specialising in social issues. She is currently a facilitator with Republic Polytechnic, an institution that practices the Problem Based Learning approach. She facilitates and crafts problems for Enterprise Skills and Economics. She is currently the module chair for Microeconomics, a third year course.