The aim of this group project is to measure student inflation by tracking the prices of a basket of goods over a five week period. The data collected will be used for comparison with the UK’s national inflation figures and to illustrate the differences between the spending patterns of the unique economic group of students in contrast to average British households. In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time. It can be measured in several different ways with the two most popular being the Consumer Price Index and the Retail Price Index.
The impact of significant levels of inflation results in less disposable income available for consumers. This report will determine the Consumer Price Index, referred to as the weighted index as well as including a simple aggregate index and Laspeyre index; alternative inflation measures. The group project task was organised and carried out in a logical manner, following the guidelines which were in place. At the first meeting a basket of goods was discussed and the decision was made to have weekly meetings on Mondays at 1pm as this was directly after our tutorial and was convenient for the group members.
It was agreed that minutes would be taken at every meeting and would be posted on the Moodle group project forum as soon afterwards as possible. One group member also created an excel worksheet for the potential list of products in our basket. In a second meeting, the product list was refined into categories and each member chose two categories to monitor over the five week period. The issue of weighting the products accordingly was also discussed at this point. In the Week Three meeting, one member took on the role of report ‘editor’ for the final stages of the project.
Group members were also allocated a written part of the project to work on. In Week Four the issue of calculating the weights of the products in the basket of goods was discussed again and a five week budget of i?? 875 was established. It was finally decided in Meeting Six that each group member would post their individual weightings in an excel worksheet posted on the group project forum during that week and an average would be calculated in order to create a more accurate price index. With the completion of this, a price index was created and the figure for inflation was established.
One member also raised the issue of which statistics would be used for comparison; they suggested that we should compare our findings not only with the ONS data but with data collected by other institutions. During the last two weeks of the project, members were encouraged to finalise their written work and post it on the forum if they felt they needed any help or just a nudge in the right direction. Members were also asked to bring a hard copy of their written work to the next meetings and in a concluding meeting the individual members’ work was put together to form the report.
By the end of the project we had ten face to face meetings. The main reason for having lots of regular meetings was that the group felt that face to face meetings were the best way to get things done and complete the group project as efficiently as possible. A more detailed documentation of the organisation and completion of the project can be found in the minutes and other discussions on the Moodle group project forum. Some suggestions made by group members were rejected by the group as being too complicated or unnecessary to the project.
One of these examples is when the idea of creating two ‘stereotypes’, one male, one female, to represent the spending habits of two different groups. This idea was consequently abandoned as it caused too many problems and would not have been essential in responding to the focus of the project which is to determine general student inflation. Most problems within the group were resolved through discussion. Some of the positive aspects of working in a group were evident.
Having five other people to share ideas with and discuss decisions resulted in a more comprehensive list of products to monitor as well as having the benefit of supplying varying approaches on how best to tackle certain parts of the project. For example, one group member did a lot of work on creating excel worksheets to make tracing the prices and calculating the weights of products much easier. The group itself was made up of six people from six different countries. Although it did not cause a huge problem it did mean that it was occasionally more difficult to understand each other during discussion.
A clash of six different personalities is obviously something that is difficult to overcome in any situation but in this one, where a project had to be carried out, it resulted in the more outspoken members of the group sometimes taking control and a lack of participation on the part of some of the quiet members of the group. However, this problem did not completely overshadow the workings of the group. The main negative of working in a group is the imbalance of effort from the group members. Some members worked hard to research for the project whilst others only participated minimally.
This obviously angered the more hardworking members of the group. The efforts of checking price and completing written work, however, were all carried out by each member. Poor attendance from certain members was another problem with the group, as was a lack of regularly checking the Moodle project forum for the latest updates. When members were not aware of urgent meetings or work they were supposed to have done it held the project up and created negative feelings amongst the other group members.