In the future, there will likely be fewer jobs estimating location choice and other submodels, than there will be jobs running these various kinds of urban models. Given this, the overview approach was useful for these M.S. and Ph.D. students.
Comments Regarding the Success of Active Learning
Components of active learning were the foundation of this course. Students gave brief presentations on urban economics concepts in one class. This was not enough experience for them, as they did not retain the flood of concepts learned in this two-week period. As mentioned above, if the course were taught again, the section covering urban economics would be stretched out by a week and some written exercises would be added, so the students could reinforce the concepts by applying them in small problem sets. Computer exercises were sought that would allow the students to apply the most important concepts, but this search was unsuccessful. An attempt was made to reinforce the urban theory ideas with a handout for the lab that listed the microeconomic behaviors (derived from urban economics) that urban models should represent, but it was not useful. Perhaps they should have been asked to refer explicitly to this handout in their papers and to discuss which behaviors each model includes.
The lab part of the course went well, with the students learning how the three urban models function, their strengths, and their weaknesses. Detailed discussions were provided in the class sessions about the models and their appropriate uses. Comparing the models clearly activated the students and led to debates, as they had performed different tests with them and so had differing experiences and opinions. This part of the course was edifying. The lab also permitted the students to learn in an alternative mode to the typical written assigment. These students were primarily from engineering backgrounds