NACOGDOCHES, Texas — A few years ago, a group of Stephen F. Austin State University students coined the term “Scanlanomics” in recognition of one of their favorite economics professors, Dr. Mark Scanlan.
Today, Scanlan continues to challenge and encourage students in the Rusche College of Business by making economics fun.
Through an online prediction game, Fredcast, developed by the Federal Reserve Bank, students predict four key economic variables: the unemployment rate, level of payroll employment, real gross domestic product growth rate and consumer price index inflation rate. The game then scores the students’ predictions and ranks participants after the real data is available. Students compete with each other to see whose prediction is most accurate.
Taking this activity to the next level, Scanlan challenges students to sharpen their research and presentation skills by designating a day each month for them to meet in the conference room in the McGee Business Building to discuss their predictions.
“These meetings are intended to simulate a business environment where students are encouraged to learn from and disagree with one another in a professional setting,” Scanlan said. “Students explain their predictions and reasoning. Then, they debate the influence recent events in the economy should have on the predicted variables.”
The Rusche College of Business has supported Scanlan’s Fredcast activity by pledging $500 in scholarship funds to the top-ranked participants. Scanlan was recently recognized with a Bright Spot award by the SFA Faculty Senate, the Center for Teaching and Learning, and the SFA vice presidents.
Scanlan has been a member of the SFA faculty since 2005. His goal in class is to make the material “meaningful, interesting and relevant for students.”
Scanlan invites banking guest lecturers to visit his class and discuss different topics the students have learned in his money and banking course. This collaboration has given students an opportunity to network with and learn from professionals in the field.
“These speakers are highly ranked banking officials who talk with students about how the concepts we learned are implemented in their banks,” Scanlan said. “Students have enjoyed learning from respected industry practitioners about the ways they actually deal with the issues we discuss in class.”
Dr. Mikhail Kouliavtsev, chair of the Department of Economics and Finance, said students praise Scanlan for his enthusiasm for economics and his teaching style.
“Many students express that Mark is not only great at delivering difficult material and making it relatable, but also caring, understanding and accessible,” Kouliavtsev said. “Every semester, there are at least a handful of student comments on class evaluations declaring Mark to be the best professor, and that is no small feat for someone teaching economics.”
For more information about SFA’s Rusche College of Business, visit sfasu.edu/business.