Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

Experiential vs. Lecture-Based Teaching: Does the Choice of Instructional Method Matter?

Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

Experiential vs. Lecture-Based Teaching: Does the Choice of Instructional Method Matter?

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

During the past few years, we have been very much interested in understanding, designing, developing and implementing an innovative approach to teaching and conducting research projects with undergraduates through activity-based learning and classroom experiments. In an effort to enhance teaching-learning in higher institutions for students' success, many educators agree that having clear learning objectives and fair assessments are the key starting points. However, we do not often talk about and research how we can effectively evaluate our teaching methodologies for effective delivery in both face-to-face and online classroom settings. It is an established fact that, effective students' assessments emerge from clearly stated learning objectives. However, we should note that the effectiveness of our teaching approaches also matter to achieving the learning objectives. If we fail to effectively communicate information which is intended to achieve the learning objectives, we will end up with unfair assessments. In other words, an effective teaching methodology bridges the gap that exists between learning objectives and the assessments of the outcomes. In this regard, innovative approaches to teaching not only help us to enhance students' learning but also improve course assessments. There are a number of teaching methods and tools we can use for effective delivery of course materials. However, it is interesting to ask which ones are serving our best interest? Which teaching approaches help students and educators to achieve the learning objectives? And how our choices of teaching approach can affect students' performance? Innovative teaching approaches which are tailored to achieve a specific clear learning objective would lead educators to fair assessments and a higher students' performance. In this paper we are interested to investigate whether activity-based teaching and learning approach (classroom experiment) enhance student performance compared to discussion based approach.

While teaching in a lecture-based approach may be a very popular approach in a very diverse learning environment, incorporating an activity-based learning approach may better overcome differences in commitment, motivation and retention. The traditional lecture format mainly emphasizes on giving information rather than learning and tends to reinforce performance goal orientation. Such a regime may do little to develop mastery, confidence and independent learning skills in students who need help in these respects, or to stimulate those who become disinterested. Indeed, the traditional lecture-seminar format can actually alienate such students from the learning process. We argue that the unique hands-on experience provides the potential for tremendous learning based on concrete experience. Activity based learning (ABL) or experiments stimulate students to a height that is not matched by textbook readings or lectures. Many attempts have recently been done to determine students' degree of motivation and learning outcomes associated with experiments in principles of economics classrooms. Although the research is not conclusive, experiments are generally found to be enjoyed by students more, and lead to either increased or neutral test scores as compared to the standard lecture format (Yandell, 2004; Ball et. Al, 2006; Durham et. al, 2007).

We use the term activity-based economics to designate an approach to teaching economics that includes three important components: a carefully design activity or experiment, data generation and analysis, and consistent application of the economic way of thinking and problem solving. When students are engaged in the study of economics by using economic reasoning and problem solving, they are more likely to understand the concept being taught and its importance. Moreover, students simply enjoy learning economics this way and become more interested in the subject matter.

Active-based learning methods often include the production of a document, display, graphs or other tangible results that can generate immediate feed-back and can be used to illustrate complex concepts. …

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