AEA Distinguished Economic Education Award

The AEA Distinguished Education Award acknowledges excellence in economic education at a national level. Recipients are able to demonstrate a sustained and impactful contribution to several areas of economic education. These areas include teaching, the development of curriculum and pedagogy, scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) of economics, mentoring of students and young faculty, and service at the institution, regional, and state level.

The award will be conferred annually at the Committee on Economic Education's Friends of Economic Education Reception at the ASSA meetings. Up to $2,000 for travel expenses to the meetings will be reimbursed.

2023 Award Winner

Mark Maier, Glendale Community College

Mark Maier, Glendale Community College (CA), is the 2023 recipient of the AEA Distinguished Economic Education Award. Mark retired from Glendale Community College (CA) as Professor of Economics in June 2023 but continues to remain active in the economic education community.

Mark’s impact on economic education over the past thirty years is remarkable in its breadth and depth. His scholarship of teaching and learning in economics is both extensive and wide-ranging, promoting evidence-based instructional practices through scholarly publications, grant-funded research, and national economics education workshops. His work with the AEA Committee on Economic Education (2002-2008), where he initiated an enduring and popular annual ASSA economic education poster session, is emblematic of his pragmatic efforts to improve economic education nationally. In addition, Mark co-facilitated workshops as part of the AEA’s Teaching Innovations Program in 2006 and 2007.

Mark has been a tireless champion of efforts to support and enhance economic education at the community college level. His work in this area led to numerous state and national teaching workshops and a national teaching newsletter focused on economics instruction in two-year institutions. He has been an inspiring mentor to scores of economics instructors, who regularly highlight Mark’s high-impact teaching practices, support of their careers, and encouragement to participate in national economic education activities. Mark has also been a strong advocate for cross-disciplinary collaborations, which have informed and enhanced teaching practices in economics and led to valuable ideas and strategies on how to effectively include two-year colleges in initiatives to strengthen undergraduate economic education.

Partnering with other economics education researchers, Mark was the principal investigator or co-principal investigator for five National Science Foundation (NSF) economic education grants totaling more than $1.26 million, including a project developing the widely-recognized Starting Point: Teaching and Learning Economics online pedagogic portal. The Starting Point site contains eighteen modules, each describing a specific teaching method, how to use it in economics, and a library of free activities that instructors can adopt or adapt for use in their own courses. Overall, these five projects helped to introduce economics instructors to a variety of evidence-based teaching practices, many originally developed in other disciplines, such as Just-in-Time Teaching and Team-Based Learning. In addition, Mark has led or co-led five additional NSF grants totaling nearly $400,000 specifically supporting community college economics instructors, with the goals of better integrating these instructors into the American Economic Association’s economic education community, improving overall community college economics instruction, and building community among two-year college economics instructors.

Throughout his career, Mark’s broad knowledge, creative ideas, inclusive approach, and willingness to look outside of economics for “what works” have contributed to moving the economics discipline toward more intentional evidence-based teaching practices. Through a collaborative, community-building approach, Mark has connected many two-year college instructors to national economic education efforts and mentored their ongoing engagement in the discipline.

Rules and Eligibility

A nominee must be a current member of the AEA. This award is not designed to recognize a single contribution but the accumulated impact on economic education. As a result, recipients must be able to document at least 15 years of sustained contribution to the field. The recipient need not be employed at an academic institution, but must be able to document their own teaching impact or their contribution to improving the teaching of others. Nominees must be employed at the time of their nomination and, if not chosen, will remain in subsequent pools of nominees for three more years regardless of changes in their employment status. Below are the areas that will be evaluated. The chosen recipient will have documented excellence in several areas but need not have documented excellence in each area.

  • Teaching Impact: It is expected that nearly all nominations would include evidence associated with the nominee's own courses.  Teaching impact may be documented with (short) letters from students, peer review of teaching, or other similar evidence of impactful teaching. Student evaluations of teaching are not required, nor will they be given much consideration. Descriptions of well-designed assessment practices might also be used as examples of supporting evidence. Teaching awards and examples of student success (attending graduate school, placements of graduate students) may also be used as evidence;

  • Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Although SoTL is grounded in published research it also includes workshops organized and facilitated, invited or conference presentations, and the development of innovative pedagogy and curriculum that is known beyond one's own classroom and institution;

  • Mentoring of Students and Young Faculty: Mentoring goes beyond a simple sharing of knowledge as it implies that a nominee actively helps others in developing their own excellence in teaching.  Supporting letters from junior faculty both within and outside of the nominee’s institution might provide especially convincing evidence of a commitment to promoting teaching excellence in others;

  • Service: Service to the profession in the area of economic education beyond one's own institution. This can include, but is not limited to, service to associations (SEA, AEA, etc), organizing conferences or sessions at conferences related to teaching, serving as an editor for an economic education journal or journal that has a special section dedicated to economic education.


Nomination and Selection Process

Recipients will have made significant and impactful contribution in several of the listed areas. Nomination requires:

  1. A nomination letter of no more than 500 words. Self-nominations are not accepted.
  2. Nominee's professional Vita, not to exceed five pages.
  3. At least three but no more than five letters of support from individuals or groups that are familiar with the nominee's work. Letters should not exceed two pages.
  4. Evidence of impactful teaching, such as short (one-page) letters of support from students, workshop participants, or mentees (three maximum); peer-reviews of teaching (two maximum); or other supportive documents. This content is optional and is only appropriate when documenting impactful teaching.

The annual nomination deadline is October 1st.  Nominees who are not selected are automatically placed in the pool of nominees for the subsequent year for a period of three years.  Nomination packets will not need to be resubmitted, but any (brief) updates to materials are welcome. 

Submit a Nomination

Previous Winners

2022: Charles Holt, University of Virginia

Charles (Charlie) Holt, University of Virginia (UVA), is the inaugural recipient of the AEA Distinguished Economic Education Award. Charlie has served on the UVA faculty since 1989 and is currently the A. Willis Robertson Professor of Political Economy in the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy.

Charlie is a renowned experimental economist who has made significant contributions to economic education through the development of experiments for the economics classroom. He tirelessly promotes the use of experiments and provides resources that enable other economic educators to adopt this pedagogical technique. Charlie’s support comes in the form of published articles on experiments for face-to-face classroom use as well as the creation and maintenance of VeconLab, an online interface for running experiments. The computerized format of VeconLab makes adoption of experiments possible for instructors of large enrollment and/or remote classes. VeconLab is freely available, creating accessibility and opportunity for thousands of economic educators around the world.

In addition to Charlie’s contributions to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, he has actively engaged others in this work. As part of an NSF funded project, Charlie organized and led annual workshops where economics faculty were both shown good examples of classroom experiments for teaching and organized into groups to create new classroom experiments, some of which were ultimately published in the Journal of Economic Education.

Charlie’s mentoring of students and faculty stretches far beyond these NSF funded workshops. Charlie has served as a mentor to countless undergraduate and graduate students and faculty over the years. Students and colleagues alike speak of Charlie’s investment in them – including inviting them to work on projects, funding their experiments, and aiding in networking. As evidence of his commitment to and excellence in teaching and mentoring, Charlie was selected as the 2008 recipient of the Southern Economic Association’s Elzinga Teaching Award and the 2014 recipient of UVA’s Excellence in Faculty Mentoring Award. Further, Charlie’s commitment to economic education is also demonstrated by his service on the AEA’s Committee on Economic Education (2000-2004) and active membership in the Society of Economic Educators.

The fruit of Charlie’s career perfectly demonstrates the synergies that arise when an economist’s research passion is also carefully and creatively applied to teaching endeavors.  His lifelong efforts enrich the experience of thousands of students and improve the teaching experience for hundreds of economic educators. He has nurtured a pedagogical technique and created a platform that allows us to demonstrate important economic outcomes day after day. Through a career marked with diligence, example, and generosity, Charlie has become an educator of educators, enhancing economic education in classrooms around the world.