Classroom Experiments & Games
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Many students respond well to being involved in a game and the experience can fix a concept vividly in their minds. We have guides and, in some cases, printable materials to help you introduce games to your classes.
Experiments and Games in Context
Economic Classroom Experiments is a chapter of the Handbook for Economics Lecturers with advice and examples.
Simulations, Games and Role-Play is an older Handbook chapter, discussing why, when and how to use games or simulations in teaching economics, with examples.
Classroom Experiments, Games and Role-Play a series of experiments and games from our Reflections on Teaching section.
Using Experiments and Activities in the Principles Class by John Eaton describes a number of games, used analogously to the "lab sessions" experienced by physical science students
John Sloman summarises seven games that can be used to increase student motivation (Powerpoint, with links to handouts and other materials)
The International Trade Game: Using just scissors, pencils, rulers and paper, large numbers of students experience a simulation of international trade.
The Tennis Balls Game: students form a "production line" to illustrate diminishing marginal returns. This is one of a number of games used by Mary Hedges and colleagues, including the oligopoly game (favourite TV show), Money Supply Game and the Restaurant Game (an auction market).
A separate page discusses some games that can be used with school students, for example on open days. These include the public goods game and rent-seeking game (both using playing cards) and auctioning a £1 coin (illustrating sunk cost and marginal cost).
Classroom Experiments and Games described in IREE:
- Portfolio Construction in Global Financial Markets by Dallas Brozik and Alina M. Zapalska describes a portfolio management game that can be played in a single session
- Market Forces and Price Ceilings by Jamie Kruse et al. describes a market to illustrate the effects of rent controls.
- Strategic Voting and Coalitions by James Stodder uses a classroom game to illustrate the Concordet Voting Paradox.
- Using Context in Classroom Experiments: A Public Goods Example by John Bernard and Daria Bernard describes a game played on paper to introduce the concept of a public good.
- A Search-Theoretic Classroom Experiment with Money by Denise Hazlett presents a market game in which one commodity emerges as a medium of exchange. Hazlett's site has details of six non-computerized classroom experiments for undergraduate macroeconomics courses.
- A Classroom Investment Coordination Experiment by Denise Hazlett gets students to privately choose firm's levels of investment, illustrating coordination failure
The FEELE team are creating an extensive guide to Economic Classroom Experiments, including The Twenty Pound Auction. It's part of WikiVersity, so you can log in to add your own experiences and variations.
Games Economists Play: Non-Computerized Classroom-Games for College Economics is an online guide to 170 games both for micro principles and macro principles (external link).
Health Economics education (HEe) lists several classroom experiments for teaching Health Economics.
Presenting Assessment as a Game
These are examples where the point of the game is not economics content, but encouraging students to participate.
- Soumaya Tohamy recreates the TV show Jeopardy in classes
- Caroline Elliott uses Noughts and Crosses to get students involved
Charles Holt's VEconLab is a set of 35 interactive games that can be configured by lecturers and played by students using only their web browsers. Each game has extensive instructions (external link).
Econport is another site allowing you to run a variety of experiments using the web. They provide extensive documentation on how to integrate the experiments into courses.
Finance and Economics Experimental Laboratory at Exeter (FEELE), an FDTL5 project based at Exeter University, is creating 40, mostly computer-based, games. You can register for free to create, customise and run economic experiments online. Jon Guest's case study describes using one of these experiments in a class.
Economics-games.com is another site along similar lines.
If you would like us to visit your department to discuss using experiments or simulations in teaching, contact the Network.