How do Key Concepts benefit students?
In Economics, Business and Accounting, there are common concepts that run through and underpin the entire syllabus. To help students understand these links, Cambridge have introduced Key Concepts into its latest A Level syllabuses for first examination in 2016.
These will help students build a deeper and broader understanding of these subjects, preparing them for higher education and helping them to answer questions about a subject in a university or job interview.
I have covered Key Concepts in Economics for Cambridge International for AS & A Level and you will also find support in Business and Accounting for Cambridge International AS & A Level.
Why are Key Concepts useful when teaching Economics?
I am now going to share some advice and lesson ideas for incorporating Key Concepts in your Economics teaching as I have done in Economics for Cambridge International AS & A Level. I will explore how the Key Concept of margin and change provides a useful tool when considering both familiar and unfamiliar issues and contexts in Economics.
The Key Concept of margin and change can be defined as decision-making by individuals, firms and governments that is based on choices at the margin; that is, once behaviour has been optimised, any change will be detrimental as long as conditions remain the same.
I have found that margin and change comes up repeatedly in the Economics syllabus in areas such as the marginal rate of taxation and marginal utility. You can see more about how margin and change can be applied to different topics in Economics for Cambridge International AS & A Level.
Lesson idea: Marginal utility
Help learners relate consumer satisfaction to the Key Concept of marginal utility by relating it to real world examples. When considering consumer satisfaction, it is marginal utility that is important when more than one item is considered. You could use the example of someone consuming ice cream. They would get more satisfaction from consuming the second ice cream rather than the third.
Lesson idea: The marginal rate of taxation
Help students understand how taxation can lead to equal distribution of income, using the Key Concept of the marginal rate of taxation. For example, with a direct tax such as income tax, there are different rates of tax that rise in line with increases in income. The rate of tax that a person pays on their last income earned is known as the marginal rate. This is what makes income tax progressive, i.e. the rate may start at 10%, but may go up to a figure as high as 50% or 60%.
Bringing it all together
I have found that students can struggle with concepts such as decisions being taking at the margin. However, by emphasising it as a Key Concept, it is easier for them to understand it, both in theory and in different contexts throughout the Economics syllabus. This will strengthen their subject knowledge, and support progression to further study.
Terry Cook is an examiner and the author of Economics for Cambridge International AS & A Level.