Monday, February 11, 2008
The Chronicle of Higher Ed writes of students at Wharton using points in an auction system to get courses. (subscriber link; H/T: Carpe Diem, which has some of the article excerpted.) It's a great example of how market structures affect the allocation of scarce resources. Should faculty maintain their own lists of students for their courses and admit people on first-come-first-served? Should we have a ranking system, as does MIT?
Should students be able to sell a seat they got? Many schools don't permit or like this practice. Steve Levitt points out that he can't sell those seats, and probably students shouldn't either. I can imagine why faculty don't like this -- if their course is one for which high prices are expressed, that could be used as evidence of teaching effectiveness (or maybe just an easy 'A'.)
But now I'm thinking, could I schedule faculty this way? Suppose I give each faculty member 500 points, and maybe an extra 50 points for each year of service on the faculty. I then place the course schedule on a webpage and offer each faculty member a chance to bid on courses. Some people prefer nights and others mornings. Some prefer to teach only on Tuesdays and Thursdays and others are fine teaching a class or two each day of the week. And let's suppose I allow faculty to bank points. Maybe this would give me better allocation?
Your comments invited.