Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ökonomische Bildung, DeGÖB-Tagung 2018

Can Classroom Experiments Challenge Students' Understanding of Economic Concepts? – Results from a Common Goods Experiment
Isabel Cademartori, Jürgen Seifried

Zuletzt geändert: 09.01.2018


In the past 15 years, there has been an increased interest in economic knowledge and education. Low economic literacy is associated with higher debt, poor risk diversification and generally low levels of saving and retirement planning (Jappelli, 2010, Lusardi & Mitchell, 2007). This paper seeks to explore whether the use of classroom experiments in economic courses can help bring about conceptual change in the economic thinking of learners (Dickie 2006; Emerson & Taylor 2004). The results of a study with 58 students of two secondary schools with a focus on business and economic studies are reported. The students participated in an economic classroom experiment aimed at illustrating the economic concepts of common goods using game theory. The goal was to get a better understanding of the process of learning economic concepts through an economic classroom experiment. The research questions were,

  1. how students learn through a classroom experiment and
  2. whether classroom experiments can support the conceptual change process for economic concepts

The results of our empirical analysis indicate that economic knowledge about common goods can be advanced by means of this experiment. How students experience the experiment, what they learn from it and what learning effects can be found for different groups of students will be determined by further analysis of the quantitative and qualitative data. Motivational effects will be analysed and reported. A comparison of the characteristics and strategy of the successful group with the other groups may also provide fruitful insight.  Overall, research on the influence of economic experiments on economic concepts is a worthwhile topic that calls for further investigation. Unless teachers are able to effectively challenge the naïve notions of students, economic knowledge will remain stagnant.