This Course at MIT

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Instructor Insights

Image of a man sitting in a chair at a desk, looking at the camera. A computer is in the background.

Ford Professor of Economics David Autor at work in his office on the MIT campus.

Below, Professor David Autor describes various aspects of how he teaches 14.03 Microeconomic Theory and Public Policy.

I was, and still am, interested in the kinds of skills people need to succeed in the workforce, and how those skills are rewarded...I especially care a great deal about how people who are the least well-off are affected by economic opportunity, education, and changes to the labor market. 

— David Autor

 

Curriculum Information

Prerequisites

14.01 Principles of Microeconomics or permission of instructor.

Requirements Satisfied

GIR

Offered

Every spring and fall semester

The Classroom

  • Five rows of tables with chairs facing a chalkboard. A window is on the side wall of the classroom.

    Lecture

    Lectures were held in a classroom with tiered seating, a sliding chalkboard, and video sound system.

 

Assessment

The students' grades were based on the following activities:

The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by best five out of six problem set grades. 30% Best five out of six problem set grades
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by three exams. 60% Three exams
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by best of six in-class quizzes. 5% Best of six in-class quizzes
The color used on the preceding chart which represents the percentage of the total grade contributed by class participation. 5% Class participation

Student Information

41 students took this course when it was offered in Fall 2016.

Breakdown by Year

Mostly undergraduates and master’s degree students

Breakdown by Major

1/4 Technology and Public Policy graduate program

3/4 Other

Typical Student Background

Many students in the Technology and Public Policy graduate program come to the course with extremely varied backgrounds. Many have some professional experience.

In the course, we discuss several empirical applications of economic theory in the developing world. We often have students from the focal areas, which enriches our discussions.

 

How Student Time Was Spent

During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:

In Class

3 hours per week
  • Met 2 times per week for 1.5 hours per session; 28 sessions total.
  • Students discussed applications from empirical and theoretical papers published in leading journals.
  • There were six unannounced quizzes during lecture sessions.
 

Recitation

1 hour per week
  • Teaching assistants helped students think through problem sets and conducted exam reviews.
 

Out of Class

8 hours per week
  • Students conducted readings, completed problem sets, prepared for exams, and attended optional office hours offered by the instructor.
 

Semester Breakdown

WEEK M T W Th F
1 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. recitation scheduled.
2 lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. recitation scheduled.
3 lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled but an assignment due. No classes throughout MIT.
4 lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. recitation scheduled.
5 lecture session scheduled and an assignment due. No session scheduled. lecture session and exam scheduled. No session scheduled. recitation scheduled.
6 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. recitation scheduled.
7 lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. recitation scheduled.
8 lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled but an assignment due. lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. recitation scheduled.
9 lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. recitation scheduled.
10 lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled but an assignment due. No classes throughout MIT.
11 lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. lecture session and exam scheduled. No session scheduled. recitation scheduled.
12 lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. lecture session scheduled. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
13 lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled but an assignment due. recitation scheduled.
14 lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled but an assignment due. recitation scheduled.
15 lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. lecture session scheduled. No session scheduled. No classes throughout MIT.
16 No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT. No classes throughout MIT.
Displays the color and pattern used on the preceding table to indicate dates when classes are not held at MIT. No classes throughout MIT
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when lecture sessions are held. Lecture session
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when problem sets are due. Problem set due
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when no class session is scheduled. No class session scheduled
Displays the color used on the preceding table to indicate dates when recitations are scheduled. Recitation
Displays the symbol used on the preceding table to indicate dates when exams are scheduled. Exam