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Senior lecturer Anke Leroux has devised a unique trading scheme that she uses in her teaching.

Anke Leroux has devised a unique trading scheme that teaches students about the market. They can trade flexibility in determining the weights of their major assessments against due date extensions on their mid-semester essay.

Students trading the due date of their essays with classmates? Changing whether the exam or the essay is worth more in their final results? Sounds far from traditional university methods. It’s all possible when senior lecturer Anke Leroux is teaching. Students taking ownership of their assessments while learning the true fundamentals of price setting and the market.

“In economics the market is very important, in climate change economics even more so with all the trading schemes of goods that are not normally priced through markets, carbon emissions for example. It is always hard for students to understand how the market sets a price in the end. The invisible hand is not really visible to students,” says senior lecturer Anke.

Every year she teaches the Economics of Climate Change to third year students. A few years back she put it as an essay topic to students to come up with a trading scheme and gave the students a lot of pointers to think about for their design proposals. She kept introducing the topic and after two years, two groups came up with some very good solutions and Anke decided to work with some students to implement their ideas in the classroom. The result is “assessment flexibility trading”, an online platform where students trade with each other extensions on their mid-semester essay and flexibility in how they allocate assessment weights.

“I wanted a system with an unpriced good and to get the market to price it. What is a due date worth, in this case?” explains Anke.

“We can’t use money obviously as it would be unethical but there doesn’t need to be money, it could be anything that’s worth something to students – like ownership over how much your major assessments are worth. About ninety percent of students choose to use the trading scheme”, says Anke.

During the first week of term the students can try out assessment flexibility trading to learn how everything works. They also do an online quiz and their mark is converted into due date credits. They can get up to seven due date credits and this means there’s some difference in how many due day credits the students get within the class. Students who opt in to the scheme also receive an endowment of five assessment flexibility points.

For the essays, normally due in week six, the students can trade to extend the due date by up to two weeks or they can submit early in week five. Students can also accumulate up to 15 percent assessment flexibility points, which they can use to make their essay worth anything between 10 and 40 per cent and their final exam worth anything between 75 and 45 per cent of the total mark.

The trading scheme has been running for four years. Some modifications have been made and Anke is set on keeping it up. She sees several benefits.

“Students have an ownership of the structure of their assessment and we as instructors see what their preferences are.” Says Anke.

She goes through the trading results with the students and plots the supply and demand for due dates as well as completed transactions to see how the value of due dates is changing over the trading period. Typically, of the 75 per cent of the students who have some flexibility to allocate at the end of trading, around 60 per cent use it to change their assessment weights – in most cases making the essay worth more and the exam less.

For the first time this year she allows students to change the assessment flexibility after they know their essay mark. If they know they have done well in the essay they may want to allocate more weight to the essay and less to the exam in their final result. Anke is already seeing a huge change in the trading.

“Previously everyone was looking for due dates, now everyone’s looking for assessment flexibility points so it has changed the market completely.”

This scheme could be applicable to other courses. Have any of your colleagues taken you up on this scheme?

“No not yet, I’d be quite happy to share it but you’d need a course which has an essay component and a lot of subjects are moving away from that.”