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What happens when musical genius meets educational entertainment? Rockonomix!

Think of Rockonomix like a combination of Weird Al Yankovic and School House Rock.

They combine into a unique and innovative project where students take a popular song and rewrite the lyrics to shoot a brand new music video about economics or personal finance.

Started in the Fall of 2010, this economics education opportunity is a chance for students to show their teachers what they know.

Read More from Kim Holder: As a brand new lecturer in the Department of Economics at the University of West Georgia in the fall of 2010, I was faced with the daunting task of engaging new business students as well as those in the general population who were completing either their required economics sequence or part of the core requirements. I developed a number of activities designed to help students learn to “see” economics in their everyday lives in order to help solidify the concepts that we learned in our lectures and readings. These smaller projects helped prepare students for the end of semester finale known as Rockonomix, a group based project where students are asked to write new lyrics to a popular song and produce their own original music video.


Since my introductory courses tend to contain a mix of students with a variety of skill sets, majors and interest levels, this project allows each student the unique opportunity to highlight talents that are not readily apparent in the traditional classroom. In addition, student feedback at UWG has been overwhelmingly positive with many indicating that they now view the subject of economics in a different way, that the assignment motivated them to read their textbook and actually learn the material so that they could write their song lyrics, and that linking economic concepts to music helped them remember difficult key concepts.


To increase student interest and collaboration across campuses, we have created the National Rockonomix Contest. The national competition allows students from different colleges and universities across the country to compete with each other for the best overall video.  This additional level of interactivity has added a unique dimension to student submissions and pushed them to produce works that are truly amazing works of economic art!


As the newly appointed UWG Center for Economic Education Director, the National Rockonomix Contest is launching in high schools with teacher workshops this fall across the country and a nationwide contest this spring!


Read More from Adam Hoffer: I discovered Rockonomix after attending a 2011 Southern Economic Association conference session dedicated to economic education in which I saw Kim Holder present a compilation of her best Rockonomix student videos. I found myself, like many other of the session attendees, enthralled with the videos. They were funny, creative, original, and many of the videos did an excellent job of summarizing basic economic concepts. It was an entertaining, visual demonstration of learning. I loved the project and I immediately rushed back to my university and inserted the project as a bonus assignment in my courses.


Beginning in the spring of 2012, I made the Rockonomix assignment mandatory in every one of my principles courses. I still remember my first student review of the assignment, “This is the coolest assignment I’ve ever had to do in college. I never would have expected it to come in an economics class.” As a professor, I like that Rockonomix provides students an opportunity to have fun in our “dismal science.” Further, at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, both of our department’s principles courses – microeconomics and macroeconomics – fulfill general education requirements, so we receive many non-economics and non-business majors (a facet of most schools’ principles courses, I believe). I find that the Rockonomix assignment more fully engages the students whose comparative advantages are present in creative and artistic fields.

Read More from Solina Lindahl: I was first introduced to the Rockonomix project at a national teaching conference and I loved the idea of injecting humor, talent and technology into the “Dismal Science.” It’s my belief that students need open-ended assignments like this or they may not ever get a chance to contribute their strengths to the class. I have been surprised by the professional quality of some of the projects. I have also been titillated, awed and touched by various projects; rarely have I been bored.


Read More from Abdullah Al-Bahrani: Students walking into economic classes have a preconceived impression that it will be hard, abstract and dry. Some may argue that their view of economics is justified, but as an instructor my goal has been to change that view by engaging, and educating my students, while making it enjoyable and applicable to their lives. Rockonomix has been my tool to make economics a little more relevant to the students. It is an interdisciplinary approach to teaching economics and allows students to use art, technology, and group work to express what they have learned in class. I have found that students feel empowered, and are more willing to discuss their thoughts. The classroom community is stronger in classes where students work in groups, and interest in economics in general has increased since I introduced the Rockonomix assignment. 


I first learned of Rockonomix from Kim Holder in the fall of 2012 via Twitter. Since that time, several of us have collaborated to create the first National Rockonomix Contest. Students are no longer focused on submitting the best project in their own classrooms, but now can compete with students across several campuses. It has been a great tool to increase interest in economics across NKU’s campus.

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