Types of Demonstrations in Economics
Economics instructors have access to an extensive set of appropriate classroom experiments that allow students to see economic concepts in action. These experiments can benefit from the Interactive Lecture Demonstration format. Before taking part in an experiment, students can predict the outcome so that attention will be focused on the main concept to be learned. Reflection after the experiment can help students appraise what was learned and transfer this understanding to other contexts.
Classroom surveysSurvey data from students' own lives can show the application of economic concepts. For example, informal, in-class surveys provide data for graphical models such supply/demand curves, elasticity or Lorenz curves and underscore the real world basis (and limitations) of these concepts. Because everyone's data is needed, surveys involve all students. And, because the outcome is not predetermined, surveys create a sense of uncertainty that may be absent in textbook presentations. The Interactive Lecture Demonstration format focuses student attention on the underlying concept, often revealing contradictions between student prediction and what the data actually show.
Surveys can be conducted by small groups of 3 - 5 students, or surveys can be conducted for the entire class, and then analyzed either as a whole class or by small groups. Examples of surveys used in econ courses.
Analysis using data is most effective if the data show a surprising result. For example, students can analyze macroeconomic trend data or Census data by gender, race and income. In the Interactive Lecture Demonstration format, students predict what the data will reveal, analyze the data, and then reflect on why their prediction was correct or not, preferably referring to economic models.
Data analyses can be relatively straight-forward, asking students to graph or otherwise manipulate a given set of data, while more sophisticated data analyses may require students to find data on their own or to conduct statistical analyses.
Classroom instructors often ask "what if" questions that are then answered by a simulation. [add link here to simulations module when live] The Interactive Demonstration approach can be used to engage students in this analysis, first asking them to make a prediction, including, if possible, a description of their underlying economic model, even if it is not well specified. The simulation demonstration will offer concrete results, prompting the student to revise or make for specific their prior view.