Associate Professor, Economics
Associate Department Chair for Undergraduate Programs
Some kids want to be ballerinas or superheroes when they grow up-Tisha Emerson always wanted to be a teacher. Living out her childhood dream, she has been a professor for over a decade now.
“When I was in kindergarten, I told my mom I wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “So I guess I’ve always had that desire to teach.”
Growing up on the Big Island of Hawaii, Emerson earned a BA in Economics from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
“Through taking Economics classes, I realized that would be my focus,” she said. “When I was taking my Principles of Microeconomics class, my professor had a huge impact on me. I thought maybe the Lord could use me to impact others.”
Emerson continued her education by earning a master’s and a PhD from the University of Southern California. At the time, Emerson thought she might stay in California; however, life took her in a different direction.
“My dissertation advisor suggested I look at Baylor,” she said. “”He knew of my Christian commitment and thought it might be a good fit. I had been to Texas once-and that was for a two-hour layover at the DFW airport.”
Emerson joined Baylor in August of 2000 and teaches International Economics, Environmental Economics, Intermediate Microeconomic Theory, and Principles of Microeconomics and Macroeconomics.
“It’s hard to imagine working somewhere else,” she said. “I feel like my colleagues really support me.”
In her classes, Emerson incorporates interactive class experiments as a teaching method. Students trade candy to simulate strategic behavior in game theory experiments or act as buyers/sellers in other experiments to discover effects of taxes and price controls.
“It’s about getting the students to really think,” she said. “The experiments cover many economics topics, and through the interaction, the students uncover economic theories for themselves.”
Emerson is also an advocate of cooperative learning in which she assembles students with different backgrounds and skill sets into groups for structured projects.
“I think my best experiences teaching are my student projects-I enjoy seeing how students learn to work together and work with data,” Emerson said. “”The projects really engage students™sometimes a group will erupt with the excitement of a discovery. You don’t see that everyday in classes!”
Emerson’s interest in economic education carries over to her research and organizational affiliations. She has published papers demonstrating the effectiveness of various pedagogical techniques in the Southern Economic Journal, Journal of Economic Education, International of Economics Education and Perspectives on Economic Education Research. She is also on the American Economic Association’s Committee for Economic Education, the steering committee for the First National Conference on Teaching Economics and Research in Economic Education, and the advisory board for TeachingWithData.org.
“I am a proponent of innovative teaching techniques and active learning strategies in economic education,” she said. “The students are discovering economic theories for themselves through these methods. It’s an organic learning process.”