Friday, December 5, 2014

Review and Critique

I did not know what to expect when I registered for Economics of Organizations but thought that it would coincide well with an Organizational Communication course that I registered for simultaneously. I found that I was able to connect some but not all examples covered in either class to each other and apply those examples to help further understand the course material. To my pleasant surprise, one of the books required for this course, Bowman and Deal’s Reframing Organizations, provided more communicative approaches to organizations that I did not expect to learn from an Economics course. Furthermore, I was able to learn new topics in economics that I had not previously been taught.

There are two lessons that I particularly enjoyed in this course. First, I enjoyed the lesson on Argyris and Schön’s theories for actions. The Model I and Model II approaches taught me about interpersonal dynamics that I did not expect to be taught in this course. As I am a student majoring in Economics and minoring in Communication, this topic appealed to both my academic interests. I also enjoyed the lesson and excel homeworks that involved the Prisoner’s Dilemma. This was a topic that had been mentioned in previous Economics courses that I had taken, but it had never been explained in depth in my classes before this one. As this is a common topic discussed in Economics courses, I am glad to have finally learned it in this course.

The structure of the course was quite different from many courses I have taken before. It has the feel of a seminar without actually being labeled as a seminar. At such large universities as the University of Illinois, this is a rare atmosphere to find. While I did not actively participate in many of the discussions, with the exception of being the first to answer a question on the first day of class, this atmosphere allowed me to develop my own thoughts and also develop a context for the course materials. Although my time is limited to a mere one semester here at U of I, I hope to find this atmosphere in another course. 

Concerning the blog posts, as I had homework due most of the week before Friday, I determined that Friday morning was the day to complete them. I struggled with a few of the blog posts conceptually and had trouble connecting my own personal experiences with the material in the beginning, but as the course went on, I was able to more quickly determine what personal experiences are appropriate to write about. Friday is also not a day that I regularly, at least in the past, do homework and that certainly affected my mindset while writing the blog posts. There were some Fridays in which I was really motivated to finish the posts and some Fridays in which I was highly unmotivated to even start the post. As for the excel homeworks, I found them to be a very unique way of learning course concepts. I have never seen homework like this before and was very pleased to apply some of my Excel knowledge gained in my summer internship. As was expected, in the beginning of the course I quickly worked through each homework. This caused me to not fully understand the course concepts but also motivated me to work more earlier and more carefully on the homework.

I do not have any suggestions for the improvement of this course or about things I would have liked to see in the course. The class has been well developed and teaches a wide variety of topics. The grading procedures were quite fair and the deadlines for assignments, specifically blog posts, were very appreciated. Despite the development and generosity of this course, I believe that I could done a much better job preparing for class discussions and exams. There were some sections of the course that I simply could have taken a little extra time on in order to fully understand them.


  1. There are a few things you said that I found surprising. One is that you hadn't seen the Prisoner's Dilemma explicated before. It is somethings that every educated person should know, not just Econ majors. Another is that you stuck with your starting time for the blog posts, even when as you said, there were weeks where you were unmotivated to do them. Did it occur to you to try doing them earlier? The last one is on course style versus class size. Have you taken other upper level econ courses which have enrollments in the same ball park as our class? Or have they all been much larger. It is hard to do this style of class if the class size is double or triple what we have now.

    You were pretty harsh on yourself in this evaluation. I wonder if as a result it will change how you go about learning in your other classes. I'd be curious whether you do modify your own behavior along these lines.