The Economics Department is prohibiting the use of calculators for all Economics 1 and 2 examinations, but students who took the tests yesterday and last week said they were unconcerned about the new policy. An advance in technology, which allows calculators to compute complex formulas, aroused concern among some professors, according to Economics 1 and 2 Course Head Herbert Levine. "It was pointed out to us, initially by some students, that contemporary calculators have a tremendous amount of memory built into them," Levine said. "It becomes perhaps too inviting to break the University rules about how to take exams." Students were allowed to use calculators on the first set of midterms last month, but both students and professors said that having calculators is not a determining factor in student performance. According to Associate Economics Professor Roger Lagunoff, a member of the committee that wrote the Econ 1 exam, numbers used on the tests have been simplified in response to the new regulation. For example, the computational section of last night's macroeconomics exam used numbers that were all multiples of 40. But Levine said he does not expect the new policy to impact grades on the exams, and according to Associate Professor Stephen Coates, who teaches microeconomics this semester, the computations on Econ 1 and 2 exams are always limited to simple operations like subtraction, division and finding ratios. Economics major Nicole Bergeron, a College senior, said that although a calculator with advanced capabilities would be a helpful tool in an upper-division class, it was unnecessary in Econ 1 and 2. According to Coates, a memo explaining the new policy implied that students with advanced calculators could have an unfair advantage but did not specify an incident that inspired the policy. "There was no suggestion that anyone had actually done this," Coates said. "I said to my class that if you're smart enough to figure out how to use it, you probably deserve to do well." Wharton freshman Sam Rivera, an Econ 1 student, said he did not feel that the material on last week's exam required a calculator. He added that he could have completed the first midterm without a calculator as well, but it would have taken him more time. And College sophomore Douglas Baumstein said students in his Econ 2 class groaned when the policy was announced, but he was not worried about taking the exam without a calculator. "They'll probably give us easy numbers," he said last night, before the exam.Comments powered by Disqus
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