Pedagogy in Action > Library > Teaching with Simulations > Economics Examples > MarketSim


Betty J. Blecha, San Francisco State University
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MarketSim helps students understand the functioning of markets by having them become consumers and producers in a simulated economy. There are two versions, both implemented over the internet. Jeremy's market is a consumer barter market. Adam's market introduces firms and money. MarketSim received funding from the National Science Foundation. The simulation is most appropriate for economics principles courses. The principle developers are Tod S. Porter and Kriss Schueller at Youngstown State University.

Learning Goals

Jeremy's market is structured to help students understand:
  • Consumer choice theory.
  • Opportunity cost.
  • Gains from trade.
Adam's market is structured to help students understand:
  • Profit maximization.
  • Price determination.
  • Market structure.
  • Labor demand.
  • Labor supply.

Context for Use

The simulation is most appropriate for principles of microeconomics. The simulation works equally well for both small and large classes, although a class size of 30 or more is recommend. Each student needs his or her own computer connected to the internet or a computer in a school computer lab.

Description and Teaching Materials

The MaketSim web site provides a detailed presentation of the two simulations. An instructor interested in using MarketSim should read the general overview first. The next step is to read the two brief overviews of how a student would react during the simulation. Finally, the instructor can play the simulation game with a small number of participants. Other links on the MarketSim page give advise to instructors, a project history, and the research papers on student learning using MarketSim . The Quick Start Manual, the Instructor's Manual, and the Student Manual are not directly accessible from the MarketSim introductory page but can be seen by clicking the links shown here or going into the "Play a Game" portion of the site.

To see a screen cast of Adam's market, click on this link: Screen Cast of Adams Market

Teaching Notes and Tips

MarketSim was developed and refined over a number of years of classroom use by several different instructors. As a consequence, the instructor support material is very well developed. Instructors electing to use MarketSim for the first time will find most of their questions answered and suggestions for class use that reflect actual classroom experience. The MarketSim web site itself has been subject to peer review and is one of the selections in the Online section of the Journal of Economic Education.

Instructors who have used the simulation have the following suggestions for new users:
  • Instructors need to thoroughly review the program with their students. Instructors need to spend time explaining the worksheet because that is the page that students use to plan their strategy. For example, they need to understand that they can use this page to determine how utility will be affected by trades before they make a trade.
  • Students should be advised to check the simulation frequently so that they can take advantage of offers that are being made.
  • Students should be warned against waiting until the period is almost over to try to make their decisions.
  • Students need to be reminded that when they make a trade the goods will go into their stock. They then have to take the action to consume the goods. Students often forget to take this action.
  • One strategy that students should follow is to make their offers in small quantities. They probably won't find someone who wants to buy a large quantity of either good.
TIME REQUIREMENTS: Instructor preparation: 6 hours
Class preparation: 50 minutes
Class simulation: 1-1.5 hours


The simulation allows an instructor to assign points. Points are assigned on the basis of participation and performance. The instructor can determine how much weight to give to these two factors.

In addition, all traditional forms of assessment can be used. For more information about assessment, see the SERC assessment module.

References and Resources

Porter, T.S. Results from the Use of Two Simulations in Principles of Micro. Paper presented at the 2005 Allied Social Science Association meetings.