Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

Effects of Classroom Experiments and Integration on Student Learning and Satisfaction

Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

Effects of Classroom Experiments and Integration on Student Learning and Satisfaction

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

Student performance and course satisfaction measures are examined to evaluate the effectiveness of an integrated micro- and macro-economics principles course with a strong emphasis on classroom experiments. Student test scores are used to analyze performance for the microeconomics portion of the integrated class, relative to prior traditional microeconomics courses taught by the same instructor. Class evaluations are examined to gauge changes in student satisfaction. Student characteristics are included in the regression model to account for differences in performance due to ability or other factors.

INTRODUCTION

This paper examines the impact on student performance and satisfaction of an integrated micro- and macro-economics principles course, taught with a strong emphasis on classroom experiments and active learning. To explore the possible advantages of the pedagogical use of experimental economics, an experimental integrated micro- and macro-economics course was developed and taught to first-year students at the University. Students completing the course received six semester units of credit (3 units for Principles of Microeconomics and 3 units for Principles of Macroeconomics) and received separate grades for the two courses. The class met for 6 hours per week. Microeconomics was completed during the first half of the fourteen-week semester and macroeconomics was covered during the second half. The course was designed to include a number of classroom experiments. Economic experiments conducted during the semester, primarily in the microeconomics portion of the class, included a double oral auction, an ultimatum game, a public goods experiment, a production function experiment, a prisoner's dilemma game, and an experiment in international trade and comparative advantage.

Classroom experiments have grown in popularity and are claimed to improve student interest and learning (see Brock, 1991 and Neral and Ray, 1995, for example). The Journal of Economic Education has devoted an entire issue to classroom experiments (JEE, Fall 1993). Several resource books exist to assist instructors who wish to integrate economic experiments into the classroom as a pedagogy tool (Yandell, 2002; Bergstrom & Miller, 2000; Hazlett, 1998; Delemeester & Neral, 1995). Experiments can be time consuming, however, so there is concern that less material will covered in classes with a heavy experimental focus. The 6-unit integrated course was designed to allow more time for experiments without sacrificing the number of chapters covered by eliminating any overlap or review required when micro and macro courses are taught separately. The expected result was improved student learning without loss of content coverage. To test this hypothesis, student test scores and student evaluations are used to analyze performance and satisfaction for the Microeconomics portion of the integrated class, relative to traditional microeconomics courses taught by the same instructor. Student characteristics are included in the regression model to account for differences in performance due to ability or other factors.

BACKGROUND AND DATA

The University requires all entering freshmen to enroll in a preceptorial course in their first semester. Preceptorial courses are specially designated general education courses open only to entering freshmen. The preceptorial program was developed as a vehicle for academic advising. The professor teaches the course but also serves as the student's advisor for the first year, and often for an additional semester or two until the student declares a major. The classes are generally kept small, with enrollment limited to about eighteen students per course. Incoming students are given brief course descriptions and are asked to submit their preferences before registration. The Dean's office tries to accommodate these preferences when initial schedules are developed.

The experiments-based integrated six-unit course was offered as a preceptorial course, with two sections available. …

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