We have found that conducting economic experiments in the classroom, with discussions before, during, and after the experiments, is an effective way of getting students to use economics to think about the world around them. Students have no problem grasping the rules for the experiments and love getting involved with markets and then figuring out what happened rather than simply being lectured at. Better yet, they not always play as cleverly as they might, providing the opportunity to learn from their own and others’ mistakes. They are enthusiastic about what they learn. As instructors, we feel the same way.
Although these experiments can be used in many different ways in the classroom, our teaching approach favors combining elements of flipped-classroom and experiential learning.
In our classes, we follow four steps:
- Students prepare by reading the Instructions for participants before the experiment section and answering a few warm-up questions that get them thinking about how to behave in the experiment for all possible roles.
- The experiment is run in the classroom with classEx. A discussion during and after the experiment invites students to come up with possible explanations for the observed results and to explore their economic intuitions.
- After the experiment, students work on a series of constructive Exercises. Problem sets aim at guiding students to discover the main concepts by themselves.
- The instructor generalizes the analysis in the lecture, provides applications, and addresses the questions students had while working on the problem sets.
The approach emphasizes the importance to furnish classroom experiments with constructive homework, making students reflect on the experiment and analyze the data.
The list of experiments and their companion material is found here.