The Tutorial and Simulation software for Boyes/Melvin Macroeconomics
provides the opportunity for students to review and apply the most important concepts covered in the text. Instructors may download a demo of the software. It consists of two major components-tutorial and simulation-either of which can be used for independent study and practice, in small group work in a computer lab, or as part of a classroom demonstration. The instructor could also assign specific modules as homework, since students can print the graphs they generate.
The tutorial portion of the program consists of modules, one per chapter, tied to the major topics of the text (e.g., "Supply and Demand," "Consumer Theory and Utility," "The Role of Government," and "Monetary Policy"). Each module is broken up into several major sections, with a self-test offered at the end of each section to reinforce what has been covered.
Working at their own pace, students experiment with the curves by entering and changing the values of discrete variables in order to see the results played out in the corresponding graph window. Narrating text prompts the student to make changes to variables and, with reinforcing explanation, encourages the student to reflect on what has happened in the graph window. A View menu allows students to view the graphs with or without a background grid (in a variety of styles) or with thin or thick curves. (This feature is also handy for classroom demonstrations.) An extensive Help menu enables students to access the Boyes/Melvin Glossary whenever they need to refresh their memories on the meaning of a particular term.
In the simulation component of the Courseware, the structured sequence of the tutorial is replaced by more open-ended problem solving. Students begin by choosing one of several scenarios, which range from "Effects of a Tariff" to "A Pollution Policy for Denver." But, instead of being presented with graphs linked to text screens, the student is encouraged to pull up his or her choices of data from a rich library of data, choose a relevant time period, and construct a meaningful graph or table. Here the student must not only choose and assemble the data but also begin the process of interpretation. With over 20 complete sets of data, which include such information as nominal GDP, inflation rate, and unemployment rate, the possibilities for analysis of data are almost endless. All data are provided in both annual and quarterly figures from 1930 to 1998 where those years are available.
The simulation scenarios also offer a kind of exploration that is not possible in other software programs. When the student is interested in doing some independent exploring, the screen is cleared and all micro and macro data sets become accessible. Students can plot up to three data series against time or choose from among the data series to plot variables against each other. This is an ideal vehicle around which professors can build substantive student assignments.