Teaching Philosophy

I design my classes around two central goals. The most important goal in any class is providing students with the tools they need to learn the material. Since different students learn in different ways, accomplishing this goal means taking a variety of different approaches in teaching. In addition to standard techniques like presentation slides or written notes, I take advantage of technology in and out of the classroom by asking students to answer questions on their phones and computers, providing online quizzes after class to reinforce the material, and using online discussion forums to enable discussion even in large classes.

The second goal is to make the class interesting to students. Understanding economics is essential for making sense of many current issues that students care about. Even in more technical economics classes, I believe that using concepts and theories to understand reality is a necessary component. I use additional readings to connect class material to current events and ask students to post their own questions on articles they find in the news.

Student Testimonials

Chris Surro has been, by far, the most effective and engaging professor I have had during my time in college. I enjoyed his Economics 102 Class (macroeconomic theory) for two distinct reasons: Professor Surro’s lecture style, and more importantly, the way the class was structured.  Read More

In terms of personality, Professor Surro is one of those teachers who is easy to approach and willing to go into depth on any question asked. Furthermore, he has a great sense of humor that made the material much more fun to learn. Professor Surro could recognize when a concept was rather hard to grasp and would take the time to ensure the class genuinely understood what was being taught. On the class website, before certain lectures, Professor Surro would reference videos or articles that would help provide further information on a specific lecture’s topic. For example, when we were learning about the economic debates between Hayek and Keynes, Professor Surro provided a link to a rap battle video that was not only fun to watch but also surprisingly insightful in simplifying the opposing theories. Considering the broad scope of what macroeconomic theory includes, I believe Professor Surro did an amazing job at integrating different aspects of the topics covered. Before going into the various models, Professor Surro would provide historical background on the development of the theory over time, referencing both the individuals who supported the model as well as the people who challenged it. Then, Professor Surro would discuss the model conceptually while also demonstrating how it worked mathematically. His holistic lecture style provided an opportunity to truly understand the underlying principles of the macroeconomic models and ideas covered. 

Now, when it comes to class structure, Professor Surro had a unique way of doing things. For most of the economic classes I have taken, the grades were simply made up of the following: midterms and finals, with the occasional homework assignment. However, Professor Surro had the class also do weekly discussions using Packback. On this forum, students would post open-ended economic questions relating to current events, and other students would provide their arguments. This helped integrate the material we were learning in class with events happening in the world. When studying Economics in college, I have found that it is easy to think that certain subjects we learn do not have a practical application. But, the Packback discussions showed that there was a real-life carryover to the macroeconomic models we were learning. Professor Surro also used a software called Tophat to post quizzes after each lecture to be done at home, as well as questions to answer in class. These, ultimately, were optional: however, there was an incentive, as completing the quizzes or answering the in-class questions would provide additional extra-credit. By doing this, Professor Surro provided a reason for the class to stay up-to-date with the material, and this strategy worked for me and other people I knew in the course. And, I can definitely say that each lecture had a high attendance rate, as it was difficult to find a good spot sometimes. As a whole, Professor Surro’s class was extremely enjoyable, and I will definitely take another one of his classes again.

Sahil Alim, Spring 2019 Student

I wish every one of my professors was like Chris. Not only does he explain everything very thoroughly and clearly, but he also cares so much about his students. I’ve never come across a professor that cares as much as Chris does. He constantly makes himself available to students whenever they need him to go over topics or ask questions. He is also one of the few economics professors at UCLA that successfully connects the material we learn in class to the real world. He really does go above and beyond as a professor and I would take every single class he teaches if I could!

Mackenzie Cullens, Spring 2019 Student

Professor Chris Surro is an outstanding professor!

His lectures are extremely clear, and his reviews are right on target. His use of the latest technology and apps along with his fun personality create a teaching style that is to the point and concise. I really enjoyed his yield arrows used in summarizing concepts because they cut out excessive verbiage and help maintain the students’ focus.

I highly recommend him as “the instructor” to take and he has an instant rapport with the students. He is a real asset to the UCLA Economics department, and he brings to the classroom all the latest information relevant to the business world. Professor Surro could easily transition to the top ranks of a career in business or government, but if you get him as a Professor, he can help you do that.

Danielle Burkett, Spring 2019 Student

Chris Surro is far and away the best Economics tutor I have had in college.

His clear, logical, and engaging style has been crucial in helping me learn difficult new material in various Economics courses which in turn, greatly improved my test scores and final grades. Most importantly, Chris is one of the very few brilliant Phd students I’ve met who is very personable and easy to click with. This valuable trait, made me look forward to study sessions as rather than feeling like a class, studying with Chris felt like studying with one of my friends. For example, often times the first few minutes of our study sessions involved back and forth banter about his Celtics and my Lakers, or silly chatter about NBA or NFL news.

I would highly recommend Chris as a tutor for Econ students or any position for that matter. Chris’ intelligence mixed with his very likable personality would make him an invaluable asset to anyone he works for. I look forward to continuing to have Chris as my Economics tutor as he best ensures my academic success while being a great person to know.

Gil Eshkol, Tutoring Student, 2018-2019

This professor is hands down the best professor I have had during my entire tenure at UCLA. The passion Mr. Surro brings to class everyday is infectious! On days I feel like just showing up to absorb information through osmosis , I end up paying attention due to the well-organized, intensely passionate lectures given by this man! I never went to office hours, so I can’t speak to that, but he always let us know that he was available outside of class, and more than willing to answer our questions, and better our understanding of the class. I hope I have the privilege of having this professor again. Give this man a position!

Anonymous Student Evaluation, Spring 2019

Thank you UCLA! F I N A L L Y !!!
Strengths: Chris Surro is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about economics and is always well- prepared for lectures. There is a great balance in lectures too: some are ipad notes, some power point. You can tell Chris is very hard-working as it shows in the way he lectures and the way he designed the class itself. He could have had a standard midterm and a final for grading but instead we also have quizzes after each class, online discussions, and problem sets. It is definitely more work for him but gives a lot more value to students. Chris also has a kind personality, is very responsive to his students and genuinely wants everyone to succeed. He even comes to class early so that students can ask him any questions they have about the class (Chris has us post our questions online so that everyone can see his responses – very convenient for a 300 student class). The class is extremely tough but Chris gives us everything we need to succeed, the rest is up to us.
Weaknesses: This class is too good and creates a wrong incentive – I almost want to fail it, just so I can repeat it.

Anonymous Student Evaluation, Spring 2019

Although Econ 102 is challenging, it is an extremely interesting course. Unlike most professors, Chris incorporates a discussion about the history of economic thought into the overall lecture, giving us both a background on macroeconomic models as well as an understanding on how and why to apply them. Through his lectures, notes, and powerpoints, he demonstrates not only his knowledge, but passion for the material he teaches. I found it extremely helpful to attend his office hours. Especially as the difficulty of the material increased throughout the course, Chris explained every concept and question thoroughly and with patience. Finally, I really enjoyed how this course was structured. The quizzes helped me determine which parts of the content I didn’t immediately understand. Overall, I highly recommend this course and this professor!

Anonymous Student Evaluation, Summer 2018

Surro is one of the best econ professors I have ever had at my time in UCLA. I thought this class was going to boring, but he somehow made it interesting. One of the smartest ideas that he did were those articles that you have to research and type it. I never thought I would actually get interested in macroeonomics, but it is so apparent in the real world. There’s interest rates, China’s trade war, GDP. They are all factors in how the world operates. He was also so smart in tackling the subject with both slides and on the board. It spiced up the material and made his teaching more convenient and efficient. Lastly, Surro is great at teaching in general. He is so articulate and his lectures are incredibly organized, like he knew what he was doing every time. He could ease up on the emails he sent us. They were a bit much. Oh I forgot, he went the extra mile to help students by providing answers to the homework if they showed proof that they tried. That’s like so much extra work, and he still accommodated us. I am wholefully impressed. It would be a shame if he doesn’t teach at UCLA again. He is truly a gem in this academic community.

Anonymous Student Evaluation, Summer 2018

All Evalutations

As Instructor

Bruinwalk Reviews (UCLA version of RateMyProfessor)

Econ 102 (Intermediate Macroeconomics) – Spring 2019 (Overall Instructor Rating: 8.22/9)

Econ 2 (Intro to Macroeconomics) – Winter 2019 (7.7/9)

Econ 2 – Fall 2018 (8.26/9)

Econ 102 – Summer 2018 (8.54/9)

Econ 102 – Summer 2017 (8.22/9)

As Teaching Assistant

Econ 1 (Intro to Microeconomics) – Spring 2018 (8/9)

Econ 41 (Statistics for Economists) – Winter 2018 (8.73/9)

Econ 1 – Fall 2017 (8.58/9)

Econ 11 (Intermediate Microeconomics) – Spring 2017 (8.68/9)

Econ 2 – Winter 2017 (8.83/9)

Econ 2 – Fall 2016 (8.44/9)

UCLA Classes

Econ 2 (Intro to Macroeconomics)

Econ 102 (Intermediate Macroeconomics)

Econ 11 (Intermediate Microeconomics)

Econ 165 (History of American Capitalism)