A note to instructors

Our purpose

Personal experience is a powerful teaching tool. Experiencing Economics is designed to provide you with preprogrammed experiments that can be run immediately, plus a complete set of materials to help you maximize the benefits of using experiments in your teaching. In this section, we will explore the features of the book, different ways you can use the book, and how to run the experiments.

The content

Experiencing Economics provides step-by-step guides for running economics experiments as well as a number of features to help you relate the experiments to the theory, questions, and conclusions economics has to offer. Each unit contains the following features:

A growing body of experiments

This book provides self-contained units for each experiment. It is an open framework that will be extended with more experiments over time. We started with the public goods game, one of the most tested and used experiments, which is discussed in The Economy.

How to use Experiencing Economics

Each experiment is related to the relevant units in The Economy and, when suitable, to the units in Economy, Society, and Public Policy. We recommend you see each unit in Experiencing Economics as a direct companion to the corresponding units in these books. However, the book will also be valuable to instructors using other textbooks. The experiments are not sequential, so you can use them in any order.

This book can be used for many different types of courses. Some examples are discussed below.

Introductory course

A course providing a theoretical introduction to economics is a perfect environment to first expose students to the real-life decision making process through experiments. For example, you might select some units to use during a microeconomics and macroeconomics course. In that case, we recommend you use this material alongside The Economy. Taking part in the experiments will help students relate economic theory to their personal experiences and develop their economic intuition. Many experiments can also be used in an introductory course to game theory.

Topic course

Many experiments can also be used in courses with a specific topic, like environmental economics or public policy, if you want to convey a concept without or prior to developing a rigorous theoretical analysis. For instance, the tragedy of the commons or the prisoner’s dilemma are easily understood when experienced in an experiment.

Experimental methodology course

Some of the experiments are suitable for an experimental methodology course. Depending on the concepts you want to illustrate, you may need to modify some of the experiments. For example, to help your students understand the treatments design, you could make small edits to the protocol behind a dictator game and assign them randomly to groups in your class. However, even without modifying the experiments, Experiencing Economics will help students understand the basic design principles behind classic experiments.

Other courses

Finally, you can use the book to help you develop experiments to illustrate specific concepts that are not included in this book. You could choose a related experiment and modify the content of the unit to suit your needs, rather than having to develop the instructions, discussion questions, and so on from scratch. For instance, you could take the templates for a double auction experiment and change the kind of shock the market experiences: a supply reduction, instead of a tax. This will allow you to use the book to complement many more topics.

How to run experiments from Experiencing Economics

The experiments in Experiencing Economics are implemented using the online tool classEx. classEx is a free, widely used online tool developed by the University of Passau. It allows instructors to run interactive experiments in the classroom and during synchronous online teaching.

classEx runs through centralized servers at the University of Passau, so there is no need to install software or download apps. Instructors can run ready-made games and also develop their own games in a standard internet browser. Students log in with their smartphone, tablet, or laptop either in the classroom or at home and can participate interactively in the lecture. They only need a standard browser and an internet connection. Results and intuitive graphs are shown instantly on the instructor’s presentation screen.

All experiments from this book are available in the folder ‘CORE Experiments for Experiencing Economics’ in classEx. The easiest way to start using classEx is by reading the ‘how to get started’ and ‘how to run ready-made games’ sections in the classEx documentation. The other sections provide further information and more detailed instructions on running the games, personalizing them, and even creating your own games.

Resources

Registration

Running the games

To start a game, simply click on the ‘Play’ button next to the game’s name in the classEx webpage. Each unit in this book provides detailed step-by-step instructions for running the games.