by Amy K. Lavender
University of West Georgia’s Richards College of Business economics professor Kim Holder knows that students don’t necessarily get excited about taking an economics class. However, she is being recognized for her innovative techniques in the classroom because she has found a way to help them learn the principles of economics while simultaneously fostering creative expression.
Holder, who is also Director for the UWG Center for Economic Education, has been awarded first place in the 2015 Economist Educators Best in Class Teaching Award for her unique and pioneering techniques in the classroom. The annual award was created by Cengage Learning and the National Economics Teaching Association (NETA) to recognize and reward innovation and notable ideas for teaching economics.
"We are proud to present this year's Economist Educators Best in Class Teaching Awards and are fortunate to be able to work amongst such inspiring and dedicated educators," said Sandi Kirshner, Chief Information Officer, Cengage Learning. "This year's winners share creative and innovative ideas that engage students in the Economics classroom and their unique teaching styles remind us to keep the student at the forefront of teaching."
Teachers from across the nation entered the contest and were required to submit a video and a 500-word essay about their idea, and peers voted on their favorites. A panel of economics educators picked by the NETA board reviewed the submissions and rated those receiving the most votes.
Holder submitted her Rockonomix project, which she created in 2010, for the judges’ consideration. For the Rockonomix project, Holder’s students parody a popular song and create a music video with lyrics that have been re-written with economic-based subject matter.
“I absolutely love this project,” Holder said. “It is what I look forward to at the end of each semester. We had to revamp the contest this year to accommodate our new high school level contest because we had so much interest at that level. I never could have imagined that it would grow to this level where education and economics peers would jokingly refer to me as the rock and roll economist.”
What started out as a way to get her students more engaged in the classroom and to retain content has become an indispensable instruction tool used by teachers across the nation as the annual Rockonomix contest invites students from any university to submit their own economics parody for a chance to win prizes. The collegiate level of the Rockonomix national competition is now in its fifth year, but Holder’s project continues to grow and has started trickling down to even younger students.
“I had no idea then  what it would become and that I would be speaking across the country about this idea,” Holder said. “We are now reaching K-12 educators, not just in our local West Georgia region, but also in Florida, Arkansas, New York, South Carolina, and Texas. In the coming months, I'm scheduled to speak in Oklahoma, Arizona, Louisiana, California, Pennsylvania, Florida, Arkansas and once again in New York spreading the message about Rockonomix and other innovative teaching ideas.”
Richards College of Business Dean and Sewell Chair of Private Enterprise Dr. Faye McIntyre said it is dedicated faculty like Holder that set UWG apart.
“We are so proud of Kim and the accomplishments she’s made in bringing these economic concepts home to this new generation of students,” McIntyre said. “We are in the business of transforming lives through education, engagement and experiences, and Kim’s efforts are a perfect example of how we do that every day.”