Student questions fuel productive change - Stevenson

January 12, 2022

How can professors encourage students to question them? In a recent article, “Sparking Student Curiosity,” Betsey Stevenson, professor of public policy and economics, lays out her philosophy on teaching and guiding critical thinking.

Since they are curious, students are already critical thinkers, according to Stevenson. They want to understand the world around them, and in the process, question it. In doing this, they naturally develop frameworks to organize their questions and answers. But, as a professor, Stevenson sees herself as guiding students to become more systematic. “In other words, I understand my students are already critical thinkers and that my job is to help them become more organized critical thinkers,” Stevenson says. 

As an economics professor, Stevenson has two goals: help students learn economics to build that decision-making framework and understand the interdependencies of their decisions. 

“I guide my students to a decision in which they have more fully assessed the likely consequences of their actions,” she writes.

Stevenson concludes her article with advice for other economists: Learn from your students, and allow them to keep your critical thinking skills sharp.

“Although students’ questions can leave established elders confused or frightened,” she says, “their questions fuel productive change.”

Read the entirety of the article, published by The Journal of Economic Education, here.