Comprehensiveness rating: 5 read less
This textbook is very comprehensiveness. It covers almost all the major topics in mainstream micro and macroeconomic studies. The examples and data used are very current and up-to-date.
Accuracy rating: 5
The book is accurate in terminology, concept, model, graphing, and wording.
Relevance/Longevity rating: 5
The authors are using "big" and on-going economic issues in the illustration, explanation, and case in point. This makes the study of the concept very relevant to real world experience. Since those are important on-going economic issues in our economy, the longevity of the content will last and is easy to update with relevant information and data.
Clarity rating: 5
Terminologies are defined in easy understandable language/wording. Concepts are explained with examples and illustrations. Graphs are using grid-lines and arrows to show the effect of it and are easy to follow and understand.
Overall, the book is very clear and precise.
Consistency rating: 5
All chapters are using the same format. Terminologies, concepts, and graphs are consistently applied and moved on from one chapter to another chapter.
Modularity rating: 4
1. I found that the display in HTML version is a bit different from the PDF file. HTML has more space between paragraphs and sections whilst PDF file does not have space. The HTML format is better and easy to read.
2. Inside each chapter, it has the section numbers which are missing in the Table of Contents. For example, in chapter 1, "Defining Economics" is section 1.1. It would be better to put back the section number 1.1 in the Table of Content as well.
Other than the above, the text in each chapter has good sections and sub-units.
Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 5
The topics in the text are presented in a logical and clear fashion. The organization/structure/flow are consistent and coherent.
All chapters are organized in the same format by using colored text box, heading and sub-heading, highlighted text, and bullet point. Easy to read and follow.
Interface rating: 3
1. As I have mentioned in 6 above, the PDF file does not space out appropriately and makes it hard to navigate through the text and go back to find text.
2. The Table of Contents should include section number for each chapter.
3. The Table of Contents should be divided into Microeconomics and Macroeconomics.
4. There is no glossary and index list at the end of the book.
Grammatical Errors rating: 5
I can't any grammatical error.
Cultural Relevance rating: 5
The authors are cultural sensitive and relevance. They are using lots of different quotes to back up their points without prejudice or bias. Different countries' cultural and economic issues are discussed and included in its content.
More Try It Problems would be better. For example, provide more Try It calculation on Elasticities, Costs of Production, etc., and provide answers and explanations.
I wonder if the book comes with test bank and quiz/exam paper generation tool for the instructor? That would be great!
Comprehensiveness rating: 5 read less
Being a product of the Pleistocene epoch, I sometimes don't trust my online navigation skills. That said, after repeated attempts, I was unable to locate a glossary or index for this otherwise fine text. Assuming they don't exist, their absence is certainly not a deal-breaker. In my long and labored experience, nearly all college principles of economics texts really are pretty much interchangeable in terms of providing basic content. They are obligated to cover these basics if they intend to be even moderately useful. This text provides solid, competent, confident coverage of all the rudiments in a clear, useful, and even fun manner: Scarcity, Choice, Supply and Demand, Elasticity, Costs of Production, Market Structures, Aggregate Supply & Demand, Money & Banking, Blah, Blah, Blah. You get the idea. The chapter on Socialist Economies in Transition was an interesting and welcome addition to the usual list of topics. Another absolutely wonderful thing the text did was to address the students with respect. Specifically, the authors recognized and acknowledged that the vast majority of students in college are there to gain knowledge and/or a degree that will help them provide for themselves and their families (present or future). Few texts in any discipline make even vague reference to what should be an obvious reality of their end customers' worlds. Most college texts authors ignore such tawdry issues out of a misplaced concern for sullying the purity of their disciplines with such pedestrian and base concerns. Also, I suspect, many of them are annoyed by the realization that what they teach (or how they teach) is of little practical value. Whoa! Where-the-heck did all THAT come from?!? Apparently someone's little "soapbox" button got pushed. Meanwhile, back to the topic at hand: Libby Rittenberg & Timothy Tregarthen are rare and refreshing exceptions to the norm. They go on at length about Careers in Economics, Application of Economics to Other Fields, LSAT Scores and Undergraduate Majors (Economics majors rank quite well), and Starting Salaries of Economists vs other Professionals (again, not-so-bad). If they had been in the room as I read these sections, I would have kissed them squarely on the lips.
Accuracy rating: 5
Okay, I'll try to curb myself a bit and not run on quite so much with this response. As I read through the text (no, I didn't read every page, but I did read quite a bit; samplings from nearly every chapter), I wasn't once struck by an obvious inaccuracy or biased presentation of concepts and material. I haven't always had that impression when reading texts, economics or otherwise. Krugman's springs to mind. These folks did an admirable job of fairly and evenhandedly compelling students to understand far reaching ramifications and consequences of topics such as the unavoidable reality (sometimes unpleasant) of having limited choices, how not "black-and-white" antitrust policies can be in a complex world of international economies, the economics of environmentalism, causes and remedies for income inequality, poverty, and discrimination, and other hot-button issues.
Relevance/Longevity rating: 4
References are made to relatively current topics such as the great recession and its ongoing and potent relevance to the future of the economies of the U.S. and the world in general. Events of this magnitude and scope will certainly remain relevant for some time to come even as they transition from a current event to an important historic lesson (think, "The Great Depression"). Likewise, investigations into the inner goings on of present-day socialist economies will likely be of interest as they continue their unprecedented morphication (?) into Lord knows what. I could be wrong (often am, ask the wife), but the authors of this text leave me with the impression that they will be responsible stewards of their OER text. The phrase, "labor of love" springs to mind. I see ongoing updates in this book's future. I am rating the text as a 4 rather than 5 only because, as economists are painfully aware, the future is a shimmering, unfocused phenomenon.
Clarity rating: 4
Let's face it, when preparing for a relaxed evening in front of a warm, crackling fire, hot Belgian cocoa in hand, and trusty canine underfoot, few would pull a love-worn economics text off the carved mahogany bookshelf (I'm painting a picture here) as an appealing choice for the evening's read. It is a sad reality that no viable college economics text (including this one) will ever be described on course evaluations with words such as, "lilting prose" or "Like the vampires in 'Twilight' this economics text made marginal cost curves spring to life; flying off the pages and into my heart..." However, Libby Rittenberg & Timothy Tregarthen truly do do (good thing my 13-year-old boy isn't in the room) a marvelous job of keeping the (captive) reader's interest and attention. From the references to Heraclitis in the preface to the effect of cancelled games on pro-basketball players' earnings in a later chapter, the reading is peppered with references and examples designed to clarify potentially (and actually) complex social, political, economic, and mathematical concepts. They rank, "well above the norm" among econ texts. Once again, I'm choosing a rank of 4 rather than 5. I do this for two reasons: 1) I am a bitter old man who grades way to hard (I've been told), and 2) I'm saving the ultimate-highest-rank of 5 for when they finally make a digital text that plugs directly into the higher learning centers of our students' cortices (directly bi-passing the sizable portions of their brains dedicated to Netflix and pizza).
Consistency rating: 5
As I sheepishly admitted somewhere above, I didn't read everysingleword of the text. However of the very many pages I did read, terminology was always consistent. I didn't find one instance where students would have been confused by the same terms being used different ways. The framework of the text was logical and consistent with the majority of economics texts available today, both OER and elsewhere. Just to be clear, that is a good thing. I'm generally unimpressed with authors that strive to distinguish their text by presenting material in an avant-garde or experimental way.
Modularity rating: 5
Okay, I can't help myself, is "modularity" really a word?
According to the authors themselves, all the chapters are written using a “modular” format. It appears that most of the chapters are divided into major sections (three in most cases). This helps keep topics from becoming too darn unwieldy. Each section also contains learning objectives, summaries, examples, and problems. Each chapter is introduced with a nice story to motivate the material and each chapter ends with a wrap-up and additional problems. Good stuff! Plenty of useful examples and a good assortment of different types of questions (with answers). I'm seriously considering using this text in my in-class sections and perhaps my online as well. Hence, the modularity issue is an important one to me. I don't have the time or inclination to cover all the chapters of any economics text, including this one. As most of you reading this likely know, this can be a problem with some texts that have chapters so tightly linked that missing out on one or more "episodes" (let alone ten) would leave the students quite befuddled (kind of like, "Downton Abbey"). Reading through this text leaves me with the strong impression that this would not be a problem (more like, "General Hospital"). In the authors' own words, "To ensure students realize that economics is a unified discipline and not a bewildering array of seemingly unrelated topics, we develop the presentation of microeconomics and of macroeconomics around integrating themes."
Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 4
Boy, this sure sounds an awful lot like #5 and to a lesser extent #6 above which reference "consistency" ,"framework", "easily realigned" and other related concepts.That said, I'll do my best to approach it as a somehow unique and separate query. And even if I am unable to do so, I will almost certainly still manage to write many many words. Why? Because I've been to graduate school!
To aid the "organization/structure/flow" of the text, the authors have organized the material a manner deliberately intended to show students that economics is a cohesive body of thought and not some sort of maddening series of complex and unrelated topics. Economic concepts can be (and regularly are) divided into the two general categories of Macroeconomics and Microeconomics; "Integrating themes" are used for both the Macro and Micro topics. For Macro, the integrating theme is the notion of Aggregate Supply and Aggregate Demand (sexy stuff that). The integrating theme for microeconomics is the "marginal decision rule." This powerful (and fun!) idea is presented quite early in the text and then used throughout the remaining discussions of microeconomics.
Interface rating: 5
A great job was done with the text's interface. All the graphs and charts and tables are clear and uncluttered and generally user-friendly. Understandably, you won't find the dizzying array of expensive multi-colored, 3D, flip-page gadgets that appear in some $307.59 economics texts. That stuff is spendy and lest we forget, the point of OER materials is to bring costs to students down. I can happily accept the simple, straight-forward, understandable format contained herein. Frankly, many of the "fancier" presentations often provide more distraction than edification.
Grammatical Errors rating: 5
Granted, I didn't have magnifying glass in hand, but in all the material I read I don't recall seeing a single grammatical faux pas.
Cultural Relevance rating: 5
While I can't absolutely guarantee that there's not a single humanoid on our fair planet that would find any words in this text offensive, I can with some confidence say that if we did find such a person they would likely be more than a little bit wacko. While the authors didn't shy away from potentially controversial but relevant economics related topics, they were without exception respectful and inclusive.
If you haven't figured it out by now, I'll spell it out: This is a great college level economics principles text. Before long, I intend to quite requiring the expensive text now used in my in-class courses and require students to read chapters from this OER text instead. Thanks Libby Rittenberg & Timothy Tregarthen for all your good work!