Syllabus

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Textbook

Amazon logo Wetzstein, Michael E. Microeconomic Theory: Concepts and Connections. Mason, Ohio: South-Western. ISBN: 0324260296.

Class Attendance

This is not a by-the-book micro-theory class, so the textbook does not adequately cover everything we'll be discussing this semester. At least one-third of the class will focus on applications from empirical and theoretical papers from leading journals that I present in class. These papers are mostly (not all) quite recent and so will not appear in textbooks. You will need to attend class to master this material. If you were planning to take another class that meets at the same time as 14.03, I strongly discourage it. Students who have tried this in the past have fared poorly and received little sympathy.

Getting Help Outside of Class

If you have questions on the class material or problem sets, there are four ways to get help:

  1. Use the class web site. We'll have threaded discussions there (monitored by TAs and me as needed) for all problem sets and class topics. You should get a pretty quick response – and a good answer.

  2. Drop in during TA office hours.

  3. Drop in during Professor Autor's office hours.

  4. Ask your question during recitation (or in class if appropriate).

Please do not send us your class-related questions by email (except for personal class-related matters). The web bulletin board is a more efficient way for us to communicate with you, and it is also beneficial to your classmates. If you email class related questions to us, we may respond but we will be irritated.

Grading

The class is not graded on a curve per se. It's possible for everyone to do well, and I'd be happy to have a reason to assign straight A's. If you make minimal effort, you will probably receive a C. I do not like to assign grades below C-, so I will ask you to drop the class if I see that you are in danger of getting a D or F. Of course, I can't help you if your performance plummets after the class drop date.

Problem Sets (25%)

I will assign 6 problem sets that are due in class and will be discussed in section on Fridays. The problems sets typically have two parts: formal problems and applications. All material is based on the readings and class discussion. Applications will draw heavily on material presented in class.

Problem sets are due on 5 pm of the assigned due date. They should be placed in the 14.03 box. After 5 pm of the due date, you will receive no credit for your assignment. There will be no exceptions.

In order to accommodate unanticipated events, illness, or conflicts in your schedule, we will automatically drop one problem set with the lowest score (for example, the one that you don't hand in). Hence, each of the 5 retained problem sets counts for 5% of your grade.

Exams (3 at 25% each)

There will be three exams. Two will be given during class hours and will be 80 minutes long. The third exam will be given during the final period and will be two hours long. The third exam will not be significantly harder than others; I just want to give you the luxury of time to think.

Each exam will only focus on the new material since the last exam, although of course you will need to understand the older material to apply the new material. The exams will be based on the textbook, the problem sets, the assigned readings, and classroom discussion . Performance on exams is highly correlated with performance on problem sets.

If you miss an exam for an excused reason, I will offer a written makeup or an oral exam on the blackboard. Students typically find oral exams painful. But, I will not write a new exam for only one or two students – so, an oral exam is reasonably likely.

Class participation (up to 7% extra credit)

You are not required to participate in class. But if you participate, I will notice and you will receive extra credit. This credit is applied after initial grades are assigned, so it is not part of the ‘curve.' This credit can (and occasionally does) make the difference between a B/B+ and A-, or between a C/C+ and a B-. Participation does not mean you always have your hand up or always get the right answer. It means that you engage and contribute.

For those who do not participate voluntary, I do occasionally cold call in class.

Questions Regarding Grading

Questions on grading should go first to your head TA. Questions on problem set or exam grades must be received by the TA no later than one week after the problem set or exam has been handed back. After one week, no appeals will be considered.

To have the grading re-considered take the following steps:

  1. Take the material to your TA along with a note describing specifically what you believe the problem to be. (Make a copy of your note and the problem set/exam for your own safekeeping.) Leave the material with your TA along with your email address.

  2. After the TA has contacted you by email, come to his/her office to discuss the question.

This procedure is designed to help to ensure fair grading by providing us with an opportunity to think about your questions carefully before responding.