The use of mathematics in teaching the principles of economics.

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Lay, William
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Middle Tennessee State University
This study endeavored to identify personal and institutional characteristics that significantly contribute to the use of mathematics in teaching the principles of economics. The study defined nine personal and ten institutional characteristics which were hypothesized to contribute to the instructor's choice to use a mathematical approach in teaching the principles course. To obtain data, nineteen questions were prepared and placed in a questionnaire which was used in a national survey of 500 colleges and universities having an economics program. The sample was selected from more than 970 institutions and yielded 378 useable responses, which were analyzed using an ordinary least squares regression.
The study resulted in a predictive model in which each of five explanatory variables had a significance level of at least 0.10. Of these, four involved personal characteristics of the instructor, including the number of mathematical problems (selected from a list) used in teaching the principles course, the percent of lecture time in which mathematics was used in teaching the course, the year the instructor received the doctorate, and whether the instructor viewed the course as a tool for eliminating potentially unsuccessful students from the major. Only one of the model's variables involved the institutional environment in which the instructor taught the course. This variable was the number of students in the economics program. Although it bore an unanticipated statistical sign, the variable completed a model capable of explaining, with a small error margin, the factors impinging on the choice of mathematics usage in an economics course.