The Economics Network

Improving economics teaching and learning for over 20 years

Student motivation and active learning

Our site has many ways to make learning more active for the student, hence more stimulating and more memorable.


The handbook chapters on lectures and small-group teaching describe how to use each format to keep students actively learning.

"Problem-Based Learning" by Frank Forsythe is a chapter of the Handbook for Economics Lecturers, explaining how to make student research tasks a central part of an economics course. A substantially revised edition was released in Autumn 2010.

In an older handbook chapter on Simulations, Games and Role-Play, Mark Sutcliffe discusses the use of games or simulations in teaching economics, with examples. See also our Theme document on Classroom Experiments and Games.

Other sections of our Handbook discuss active learning approaches. See for example Overcoming barriers to active learning in lectures in the chapter on Lectures.

See also our teaching case studies in the categories of Learning Approaches and Classroom practice and student engagement, especially Employability, Transferable Skills and Student Motivation and Developing a PBL course in Economics: a sceptic's diary.

Survey results

In our 2006 student survey, when asked about activities that they find most useful in seminars, students mention questions, discussions and group work. Simulation games and role-play were also mentioned in the institutions where they were used. Students complain about seminars that lack interaction:

"Tutors should try to make the class more stimulating maybe by doing more games and role-play";

"The students should be made to interact more even if it is just in discussion. Why are there no debates? Surely a debate would get everyone involved. The lecturer could set a motion and the class could debate it. The debates could be prepared or not."

Projects funded by the Economics Network

Teaching resources

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