Digitized Technology and Student Learning of Macroeconomics in the Short and Long Term: Caveat Emptor

Nan L. Maxwell and Anthony K. Lima
    Our study examined the learning gains and course satisfaction associated with using different levels of digitized text technology in Principles of Macroeconomics. Using the Test of Understanding of College Economics (TUCE) to measure knowledge of macroeconomic principles and the students' grades to measure knowledge of intermediate macroeconomic theory, we compared the short-term (principles) and long-term (intermediate) learning gains associated with enrollment in a principles course using three course formats: a typical lecture-discussion, a technology-rich (Web-augmented) format, and completely online instruction. We found that students in the online class scored significantly lower on the TUCE post-test but were no more or less likely to drop the class, continue to the intermediate course, or learn intermediate theory than other students. These results are robust under several different model specifications. Course satisfaction was lower with completely online instruction. Since greater knowledge of principles increased the grade in the Intermediate course, our results suggest that longterm learning might be hindered with online instruction of economics principles. Outcomes and behaviors of students enrolled in the Web-augmented class did not differ significantly from those of students in the lecture-discussion class.