Dr. Bob Jones
Assistant Professor of Economics
"I began to really enjoy the challenge of trying to show my students that economics isn't just a bunch of things you memorize – it's a way of thinking that can change how you see the world, how you see your options, and how you make choices."
- Ph.D. – University of California
- MS – Texas A&M University
- BS – Texas A&M University
- Earhart Fellow
- Jones, R. (2011). Making the Invisible Hand Visible: An Intuitive Framework for Explaining Scarcity, Choice, and the Role of Market Prices. Proceedings of the International Academy of Business and Public Administration Disciplines Conference.
In which online degree program(s) do you teach?
Which classes do you teach online?
ECON 2010 and ECON 2020.
Why did you start teaching?
I started teaching economics, initially, as a means to an end. I really enjoyed studying economics and teaching was a career option that allowed me to keep studying and learning what I enjoyed. After teaching for a while, though, I began to really enjoy the challenge of trying to show my students that economics isn't just a bunch of things you memorize – it's a way of thinking that can change how you see the world, how you see your options, and how you make choices. Memorizing terms isn't fun, but learning a new way to structure your thinking can be fun, interesting, and extremely useful.
What's the best advice that you have ever received?
"Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." – John Wooden, Head Coach of the UCLA Men's Basketball Team, National Champion 10 times in 12 years (1963-1975)
What's your best advice for someone who is returning to finish an undergraduate degree?
Don't underestimate the value of your life experiences. Many students coming directly from high school don't make it in college primarily because they haven't learned how to manage their lives. If you have experience on the job, or in managing a family, the skills you have learned in those contexts will be extremely valuable to you in managing your courses. Approach them the same way you approach your job. New experiences can seem overwhelming, but take things one class at a time, one assignment at a time, and you'll be done before you know it.
What is the one book you think everyone should read?
The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload by Daniel J. Levitin.
What qualities make someone particularly successful in the profession in which you teach?
In economics, and business in general, the ability to slow down and think through an issue carefully is extremely important. Because there are so many decisions that we can make quickly it's easy to forget that some decisions should not be made quickly. Some issues are quite complicated and require time, reflection, and serious concentration. See Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman.
What do you think is the biggest challenge that people in the profession face today?
Today when we make decisions we have dramatically more information, and greater ability to analyze that information, than people in the past. Information is incredibly valuable, but a flood of information can be overwhelming and cause the useful information to be lost in the noise. The challenge is to learn to separate the useful information from the noise. Learning an effective way to structure or organize your thinking (as you learn in economics) is a big part of the solution.
How do you see online learning affecting the future of education?
I believe online education will become increasingly important in higher education because it gives more people access to educational opportunities. It gives students who have the desire to learn, but are unable to physically attend classes on campus, the opportunity they need.
Online teaching allows instructors to spend less time presenting the same material over and over to different classes, and more time thinking through which material to include, tweaking how it is presented, and interacting with students about things they are struggling with.
My goal in an online class is for my students to learn every bit as much as they would have learned had they taken my face-to-face class. At the end of the course I want my students to feel that they have not merely acquired a body of facts, but rather have learned to think about economic issues and decisions in a new and enlightening way that will impact their view of the world. I also want them to feel that they got to know their instructor, that he was really interested in the subject matter, and that he genuinely wanted to help them learn.
What can earning a bachelor's degree do for a working adult?
On the job you learn incredibly valuable information, but it is often very much focused in one particular area or topic. By completing a bachelor's degree in business administration you will be exposed to a much wider range of topics and ideas than you would encounter in a given job. With this more comprehensive foundation you will be better equipped to apply what you know effectively in your current job, and to recognize opportunities for yourself and your firm beyond your current job.