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UNT professors integrate project to teach students about insurance policies

UNT professors integrate project to teach students about insurance policies

UNT professors integrate project to teach students about insurance policies
November 01
18:06 2018

UNT Risk Management professors Yu-Luen Ma and Nat Pope have conducted research for years and found a way to bridge the gap between college students and the functions of insurance policies. The project the duo came up with is a unique solution for students to learn about how insurance works while also “purchasing” a grade.

“Insurance wouldn’t exist if things of value didn’t exist,” said Pope, associate lecturer for Finance, Insurance, Real Estate and Law (FIREL). “Students need to understand all that comes with buying insurance and why having protection for valuables is important.”

This project is for students to take ownership and experience firsthand what they need to have for a profitable and successful insurance policy. The concept of the project is to stimulate critical thinking skills in a real-world situation. Students are looking at real data as if they are an insurance company where they can write their own policies for protecting their grades.

“Students care the most about their grades,” said Ma, a risk management and insurance professor. “We wanted to design a project they would take seriously, while making sure they understand these abstract concepts.”

The design of the project allows students to exchange grade points as currency on assignments, enabling them to spend their money on grades and purchase insurance options. Students can earn points for assignments throughout the semester. This allows them to save up and eventually shop for insurance policies from other students.

Additionally, teams will fill the role of insurers and use data collected by students to create policies for grade protection insurance.

“The concept of insurance is abstract and challenging,” Ma said. “This program allows students to see firsthand how insurance works while gaining hands-on experience.”

Ma and Pope, who are married, used the method during their time as professors and researchers at Illinois State University, where they taught for more than a decade before coming to UNT.

Ma and Pope’s method has received recognition at the national level, winning the Strickler Award in 2007 from the American Risk and Insurance Association, the largest academic organization for insurance research. Faculty members from universities who have an innovative way of teaching can share their methods with other faculty members nationally and even internationally and submit their research to be awarded, and this project won nearly 10 years ago.

“This is a great way for students to prepare for their futures by making those important decisions and learning how insurance companies operate,” said Aminat Pedro, a 20-year-old business student.

The method has been implemented at UNT for three semesters. Ma and Pope said they see potential in expanding the project in the future with other professors in different departments, allowing their students participate in this project, as well.

“It’s up to other professors if they want to let their students participate in something like this because it does affect their grade,” Ma said. “But if they are OK with that, then I am open to the idea of letting other students experience this project.”

Featured Image: Students enjoy the beautiful weather outside, and sit on benches in front of the Business Leadership building. File

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Nadirah Hill

Nadirah Hill

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