Principles of Economics

Syllabus Spring 2009

On-Line Version



Sam Barker



Introduction to Economic Reasoning, seventh edition, by Rohlf, William D., Jr. is required.



Computer with modem and e-mail capabilities.


Office Hours: 

I will be available Tuesday and Thursday from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.  You can reach my by phone, during the above hours, at 509-529-4342.  You can also reach me by e-mail at [email protected].


Course Description:

This course is designed to introduce economics and the economic approach to the problems created by scarcity. Specifically, the course will be economics for non-majors: fundamental concepts of economic analysis with application to contemporary problems.  You should learn what a market system is and how it has come to be the dominate economic system in the world today. Also, you should be able to evaluate free market outcomes as to their effectiveness and efficiency using the traditional tools of economic analysis. You will be asked to analyze possible social/political interventions into the market to solve contemporary problems, as well as the effectiveness of past interventions.  Finally, you should note that this course is not designed for economics or four year business majors.  While it will help prepare students in those majors, those students are expected to take a two class sequence in micro- and macroeconomics.



Because this class is taught using the English language, a proficiency in English equivalent to EdCC's EAP 121 or Bridge 93, roughly that of high school English, is a prerequisite.  Similarly, mathematical ability equivalent to Math 60 or Business Math (BUS 130) is also recommended.  Because most of the communications in this class will take place over the Internet and E-mail, strong computer skills are recommended. 


There are a couple of resources on the home page which can help you assess whether you have the technical and skill requirements for an online course.    If you click “Get Started” at the top of the WAOL home page, you can then assess your readiness by clicking on and opening “Is online learning for me?” and “Tech and skill requirements.”


If you have any questions regarding these prerequisites, please contact me to make sure this class is appropriate for you.



This class represents an alternative method of teaching and learning economics.   While we will be using the Internet to communicate, our goal is to maintain as much of the traditional experience of the classroom as possible.  Therefore, the course objectives, course schedule, assessment criteria, and grading are much like the economics course offered in the actual classroom.  At the same time, we want to take advantage of the convenience, flexibility, and added resources that technology offers.  That means that you will be able to read lectures, work problems, ask questions, and provide comments according to your own time schedule, consistent with the time requirements that I will establish.


While online education provides flexibility and convenience, it also requires a time commitment at least equivalent to a traditional, face-to-face class.   A good rule of thumb for a college level class is to expect to invest three hours per week for every credit unit of the course.  As this is a five credit course, you can expect to invest fifteen hours per week, at a minimum, in reading, discussing, problem solving, and other class activities leading to your mastery of the learning objectives for this course.   Rather than spending time commuting to the campus at times that may not be convenient for you, you can participate in the class  from the comfort of your office or home, at times that are convenient to you.  But, you still need to do it in a disciplined and consistent manner!


I have divided the course into nine sections which will enable us to cover about one chapter per week. The class week begins on Thursday and ends on the following Wednesday.  At the start of each week, I will post the lecture, homework assignments, etc. for the week under the “Lessons” tab in Angel.


Course Objectives:

By the end of the course you should be able to: 

·        read, interpret and evaluate information generated by the media about economics;

·        place those articles within traditional economic analysis, i.e. micro, macro, market failures, impacts on efficiency, etc.;

·        use fundamental tools in analyzing current issues, i.e. opportunity cost, marginal analysis, supply and demand, etc.;

·        define economics and state what function an economy serves in society;

·        state the fundamental economic problem;

·        explain the concept of opportunity cost and how economists use it;

·        read, interpret and use graphs, along with other quantitative tools, commonly used in economics.  These include, supply and demand, production possibilities, cost/benefit analysis, marginal analysis and business cycle model;

·        demonstrate an understanding of the economic, political, social and cultural responses to scarcity and place those responses in appropriate context;

·        recognize and use the three main paradigms (views of how the economy really works) used in economic analysis:  neoclassical nonintervention, Keynesian active intervention and Marxist/structuralist;

·        note and evaluate the role of government in an economy;

·        evaluate past and present attempts to intervene in market outcomes;

·        recognize market failures, their impact on efficiency and evaluate attempts to correct them;

·        understand the forces (demand and supply) that drive overall economic activity in market;

·        recognize the strengths and weaknesses of the commonly used measurements of macroeconomic performance (GDP, CPI and Unemployment rates);

·        explain the role of money supply in the macroeconomy;

·        explain the role of the Federal Reserve in developing and executing monetary policy;

·        note the increasing role of international trade in the world;

·        understand the gains from trade and specialization; and

·        recognize the institutional framework of the current international economy. 


Late exams, homework, or quizzes may be penalized unless I receive sufficient notice and adequate reasons prior to the due date.  Exams, homework, and quizzes are due by midnight of the due date.


The quizzes and exams are taken online.  You may use your book and any other reference material while taking the quizzes and exams.  However, you may not collaborate with classmates or other individuals while taking them. 


Homework assignments will be assigned in the week’s folder.  Most, if not all, of the homework assignments will be team assignments. 


Points Possible:

Most, if not all, weeks will have approximately 20+ possible points in assignments, quizzes, etc.  There will be three exams during the quarter each worth 100 points.  So, there will be approximately 500 possible points.  I say approximately 500 possible points because I reserve the right to add an assignment(s) worth a few points during the course of the quarter. 


I do not provide extra credit opportunities.


Grading Scale:


93 – 100



90 - 92



87 – 89



83 – 86



80 – 82



77 – 79



73 – 76



70 – 72



67 – 69



60 – 66