Karen Leppel

Karen Leppel, PhD

  • Professor

Programs I Teach


  • PhD, Economics (1980)
    Princeton University (NJ)

About Me

Many years ago, I realized that my students were not doing their homework and as a consequence, they were not getting the practice they needed to understand the material. The only way to guarantee that they were getting problem-solving experience was to have them do the work in class.

I also knew that it was not possible for me to help each student in class individually. I decided to divide the class into groups and have them help one another. As long as I could get one student in a group to understand the problem, I could have him or her explain it to his or her teammates and I could move on to the next group.

This process had the additional advantages that the students who were helping others gained a better understanding themselves, and all group members learned to work in teams. This teaching technique was remarkably successful. It was then that I first realized the importance of active learning. I adapted the technique of in-class group problem solving to all of my classes and use it regularly.

Research Interests

As a researcher, I have focused on the impact of demographic characteristics on economic behavior. My recent work has included examination of the relation between sexual orientation and job satisfaction.


  • Leppel, K. (2016). The incidence of self-employment by sexual orientation. Small Business Economics: An Entrepreneurship Journal, 46(3), 347-363.
  • Leppel, K. (2014). Does job satisfaction vary with sexual orientation? Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, 53(2), 169-198.
  • Leppel, K. and McCloskey, D.W. (2011). A cross-generational examination of electronic commerce adoption. Journal of Consumer Marketing, 28(4), 261-268.

Professional Affiliations & Memberships

American Economic Association (AEA), International Atlantic Economic Society (IAES)


  • School of Business Administration Distinguished Research Professor Award (2011–2012)
  • Research Sabbatical: Job Satisfaction and Sexual Orientation (Spring 2013)
  • Research Sabbatical: Homeownership among Married and Unmarried, Opposite- and Same-Sex Couples (Fall 2005)