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Classroom Experiments & Games

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.

IREE Volume 9 Issue 2 was a special issue on economic classroom experiments, including review papers as well as details of individual experiments.

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)

Jon Guest describes using classroom experiments as a more active method of teaching microeconomics in a first-year context and an intermediate context.

The FEELE team have created 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 180 games both for micro principles and macro principles (external link).

Health Economics education (HEe) lists several classroom experiments for teaching Health Economics.

Individual Games

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), auctioning a £1 coin (illustrating sunk cost and marginal cost) and a public goods game with altruistic punishment.

Some journal articles describing classroom experiments and games

Computerised Games and Experiments

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.

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, has created 13 online 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. It has 14 simulations for students to play on their own, and 48 multiplayer games that lecturers can configure and share via a web link. The site is free and students can play from computers, phones or other internet devices.

LIONESS is a free web-based platform for interactive online experiments, developed at the University of Nottingham and University of Passau. The control panel lets experimenters design and conduct experiments. Participants take part via personalised links.

oTree is a framework for coding multi-player experiments and games, based on the Python language. Experiments can be created by writing code and/or assembling components in a point-and-click interface. They can be run on the Web or downloaded. There is a long list of experiments and games created by the community.

ClassEx, based at the University of Passau, is a widely-used platform for online surveys and classroom experiments. Students make their decisions via their computers or mobile devices, and the outcomes appear on the lecturer's computer for them to present to the group.

Ariel Rubinstein's site, Didactic Web-Based Experiments in Game Theory, has free online games and suggestions for using them in class. "After having registered, a teacher, will be able to allocate problems to the students and get basic statistics on their responses. [...] My goal as a teacher is to deliver a loud and clear message that game theoretic models are not meant to supply predictions of strategic behavior in real life."

MobLab is a classroom gaming and polling system that takes a paid subscription per student per class. Its dozens of games can be browsed by course and can be configured by the lecturer. Its grade book can sync to VLE software.

The Teach Better podcast has an episode from July 2017 in which Matt Olczak of Aston Business School discusses using economics-games.com and VEconLab, and Bob Gazzale of the University of Toronto discusses his use of MobLab.

zTree, the Zurich Toolbox for Readymade Economic Experiments, is a client/server software package that runs locally on Windows computers (including virtual machines), rather than over the Web.

Kiviq is a dedicated educational tool for running double auctions in a classroom setting.

For a stock market game, see HowTheMarketWorks.com.