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2013



Spotlight on Laura Stanley

Student Laura StanleyIn August, the James Madison University Center for Economic Education says goodbye to Laura E. Stanley, whose career as a honor student at JMU was closely tied to the center.

Stanley first walked through the doors of Zane Showker Hall as a high school student, invited to a winner's reception for the highest scoring teams in the Stock Market Game, an investment simulation sponsored by the center in Shenandoah Valley schools. Late she was admitted, returned to JMU as a first-year student, and declared an economics major.

"Laura had studied with Elizabeth Ramsey at Rockbridge County High School, and she arrived with a good grounding in the principles of economics and finance," said Dr. William C. Wood, director of the JMU center. "Liz Ramsey was one of the most talented teachers we've had in the JMU workshop series, and she did a great jobs of drawing resources together for her students. She highly recommended Laura to us."

The center offers teacher training in economics and personal finance, drawing together resources from school systems, JMU and the nonprofit Shenandoah Valley Economic Education, Inc. Stanely served as a student assistant in the center for most of her time at JMU. Part of her work involved assisting with the same Stock Market Game that had first brought her to JMU.

"Hundreds of teachers were helped by Laura's work in the center," said Lynne F. Stover, associate director for program. "In everything we did for teachers, she was right there, helping to make it all work."

As Stanley progressed through economics major courses, she was intrigued by the concept of offsetting behavior -- the idea that people sometimes respond unexpectedly to interventions, offsetting some of the benefit. She thought offsetting behavior among students might reduce the benefit that students receive from new learning technologies in college classrooms.

"Laura had a clever design for testing student reactions," said Wood, who supervised Stanley's honors thesis on offsetting behavior. Wood reported that Stanley found some evidence of offsetting behavior among students who used digital response pads ("clickers") in an economics class. "The idea is that innovations like clickers help students learn better -- but if there's offsetting behavior, students may reduce their own effort in response, partially cancelling out the benefit."

After graduating from JMU in May, Stanley spent part of the summer preparing her findings for submission to professional journals. Now, after her JMU experience and two Washington internships, Stanley is off to George Mason University to study economics at the graduate level.

"Laura came in the building as a winner and she leaves as a winner," Wood said. "We're proud of what she accomplished here and we're looking forward to what she can do at the next level."

by William Wood








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