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

Presenting Assessment as a Game

These are examples where the point of the game is not economics content, but encouraging students to participate.

Computerised Games

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. is another site along similar lines.

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


If you would like us to visit your department to discuss using experiments or simulations in teaching, contact the Network.