Student Learning in the Principles of Economics Course at Predominantly Black and White Universities: Lessons from Two Schools

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Stuart D. Allen, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: What Do We Know About The Economic Education Of African American College Students? Despite attempts within the economics profession over the past decade to increase the representation of minority groups in economics, the low number of African Americans majoring and seeking advanced degrees in economics is striking. As Paul Ruffins (1996, 18) notes, "there is probably no other field where the number of African American Ph.D.s is so low, relative to the number of undergraduates who take courses in the discipline, especially in light of the number of African Americans with related professional degrees such as Master's of Business Administration or Certified Public Accountancy." The low representation of blacks in the economics profession raises public policy as well as diversity concerns. In particular, as many black economists point out, "the African American community, as a whole, suffers when there aren't any African American economists at the conference table when important decisions are being made." (Ruffins 1996, 18) During the past two decades, attempts to increase the number of black economists have focused primarily on advanced undergraduate and graduate-level education.1 Despite these efforts, the number of blacks in the economics profession remains low. Surprisingly, little attention has been paid to the effectiveness of basic undergraduate economic education for blacks, especially those attending historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Traditionally and historically, HBCUs have played a critical role in the education of black students in the U.S. While HBCUs account for approximately 15 percent of overall black enrollment in institutions of higher education in the U.S., they produce a disproportionate 28 percent of black graduates (Digest of Education Statistics 1998, Tables 206, 218 and 265). We are particularly interested in determining whether the learning outcomes of students enrolled in introductory-level economics courses at HBCUs are similar to those of students at comparable traditionally white colleges and universities (TWCUs). Given the disproportionate share of black graduates produced by HBCUs, lower levels of student learning in introductory economics courses at HBCUs could potentially be a factor limiting the number of black students who seek careers in economics.

Additional Information

Review of Black Political Economy, Winter 2000, Vol. 28, No. 3, 23-39.
Language: English
Date: 2000
Economics education, African American college students, Historically black colleges and universities

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