Classroom experiments and
Dieter Balkenborg FEELE, Exeter
FEELE Lab, The Exeter
• Todd Kaplan
FDTL5 Grant for Bringing
• Dieter Balkenborg into the Classroom
• Tim Miller
• A macro experiment.
• Why Classroom Experiments?
• What are classroom experiments and how
can they be used?
• Where do I get information. What
A Macroeconomic coordination
Denize Hazlett, Todd Kaplan
Why Economic experiments?
• Why trust a theory?
• Physics without experiments unthinkable.
Economics so different?
• Chamberlin / Vernon Smith
• Alternative way to understand economics
in addition to abstract thinking and math.
• An economic discipline of increasing
importance (Nobelprize), teaching
informed by research
What are classroom experiments
and how can they be used?
Types of Experiments
– Quick raise hands (symmetric prisoners’ dilemma).
– Sampling paper collection (2*2 games, currency attack).
– More sophisticated (Pit market, Sloman’s Trade Game).
– Web based: PhP or Java (Bertrand, Double Auction).
– Locally based/installed (z-tree).
– Simple Q&A with feedback in class: (Rubinstein’s site).
– More advanced Individual Choice experiments with some immediate
feedback (Monty Hall).
– Play against a fictitious/robot/prior human player (Holt: Traveler’s
– Students play each other at designated time.
– Single lecture (Chamberlain)
– Complete semester (Selten/Mitzkewitz/Uhlich, Iowa Pol. Stock
– Requirement to be a subject. (Psychology)
– Suitable for large lectures.
– Some take just minutes.
– Engaging for students .
– May require careful preparation, including room
– May require assistants/volunteers.
– May require practice: Student experience may vary.
– Giving feedback may take time and only available the
– One can only run for few rounds.
– A public good provided!
– Readily available, great for beginners, uniform
– Immediate results, data ready for evaluation
– Experiments standardized, limited flexibility
– Room requirements, split large lectures, use tutorials
– May need trained teaching assistant
– Equipment (PhP vs Java, palm tops)
– Needs one hour of teaching time
– Saves lecture time
– Many periods possible (no time limit)
– Easy access to homework data
– Typically not interactive
– Participation rate can be low unless incentives
are in place.
– Low cost (saves recruitment costs).
– Organization needs to be more careful than
standard teaching experiments.
– Limited communication between and to
Challenges for Classroom
• Module (Course) Structure
• They have limited time too (both inside and
outside the classroom).
• Maintain attention (negative externality of both
data and speed).
• Assess performance/motivation (earnings is
noisy, attendance has problems).
• How can we write test (or homework) questions
that require student to attend experiment?
• Some may (correctly/incorrectly) resent being
used for research experiments at a sacrifice of
• Need to use others’ ideas and
• Need to want to try something new.
• Need to sacrifice course time.
• Need to value experiments.
• Many courses don’t have experiments that
fit directly into them (macro / finance).
• Same experiments for different courses
• Some experiments may require students
to be in two courses. (Run an experiment
in micro economics and analyze it for the
• Enjoyable, Interactive
• Better grades (Emerson & Taylor, 2004)
• Concrete learning experience (rather than
• Some students do well in experiments but poor on
tests (such as those with poor math skills).
• Richer teaching style -> evaluations
• Learn about experimental economics.
How to use experiments
Size can determine how:
• Big lectures (>100): use short hand-run, homework
• Large Lectures (40<#<100): make use of
computerized experiments in tutorials.
• Small Lectures (<40). Possible to use computerized
experiments in place of lectures
Experiments seem to work well for all levels of students
(even high school)
• (from Holt) Two students per computer
• Give instructions beforehand (foreign or dyslexic
• Let students participate in preparation, execution
and evaluation. (Especially in an experimental
• Relate some exam questions to experiments
Where do I get information. What
U. of Virginia
• Articles on hand-run experiments in
Journal Economics Perspectives,
Southern economic Journal.
• Google for veconlab
• New textbook.
FEELE web pages
FDTL5 Grant for Bringing
• experiments Experimental Economics
into the Classroom
Register using codeword:
• Handbook ESA2006
Theodore C. Bergstrom, John H. Miller
Experiments with Economic Principles:
Denise Hazlett's Classroom Experiments in
• List of Experiments
1. Federal Funds Market Experiment.
2. Consumer Price Index Experiment
3. Unemployment Compensation
4. Investment Coordination Experiment
5. Money as a Medium of Exchange
6. The Effects of Real vs. Nominal Interest
Rates on Investment
• Google “econport”
• Normal Forms
• Extensive Forms
Rubinstein’s Game Theory Site
• Short questions with
The Economics Network
Last, but not least,
provides loads of information
Slides will be made available
or google “Balkenborg”