The Economics Network

Improving economics teaching and learning for over 20 years

Using Excel in Economics teaching: Workbooks

Lory Barile, Warwick University
Published June 2020

These workbooks were used for an undergraduate level 4 Skills for Economics module. The examples are linked to the Statistics component of the module, and in particular were used as supportive material for the descriptive statistics and probability distributions topics.

Workbook 1 refers to a demo file used to illustrate how to create a histogram using different methods (e.g., class intervals defined by ‘2 to k rule’ and/or assigned by Data Analysis tab in Excel). The file includes also a spreadsheet showing how to make cumulative (absolute and relative) frequency distributions. Demos were usually provided to students every week with reference to the topics covered in class.

Workbook 2 relates to the Central Limit Theorem and was used to discuss the idea that, if all samples of a particular size are selected from a population, the sampling distribution of the sample mean is approximately a normal distribution. The dataset was collected using an experiment the week before the topic was covered in class. Students were given a piece of paper with a number, their experiment identification number. They were then asked to write their height and weight on the paper and given five minutes to collect (anonymously) the same information from other three students in the class. Data was handed out to the instructor at the end of the experiment. The following week the workbook was ready with the relevant information and examples to illustrate the abstract concept of sampling distribution and make it more concrete.