Participate or observe? Effects of economic classroom experiments on students’ economic literacy

Abstract

Economic classroom experiments are controlled interactive learning exercises targeting the comprehension of economic concepts in an inductive way. Aiming at increasing students’ knowledge of economic concepts, two types of economic classroom experiments are examined in a sample of 134 secondary school students. In the interactive research condition, 44 students participate in a series of four experiments, whereas in the constructive condition, 49 students observe four videos showing peers engaged in similar experiments. The 41 students in the control condition attend four lessons based on the model of direct instruction. ANCOVAs and contrast analyses indicate that interactive learning from experiences in economic classroom experiments is beneficial for secondary school students’ knowledge of economic concepts. Reasons for this finding are elaborated on the basis of observed student activities, interactions, communication, and self-reported experiences.

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Acknowledgments

Part of our research has been presented at the EAPRIL Conference (26–29 November 2013) in Biel/Bienne, Switzerland. We would like to thank Dennis Gremmen, Willem Houtappels, Lenie Kneppers, John Kragt, Dominique Sluijsmans, and several anonymous referees for their scholarly comments. We are grateful to HAN University of Applied Sciences for supporting this research project, and we would like to express our gratitude to all participating teachers and students for their efforts.

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Roel Grol. Department of Education, HAN University of Applied Sciences, P.O. Box 30011, 6503 HN Nijmegen, The Netherlands. E-mail: roel.grol@han.nlCurrent themes of research:Applied Sciences. Economic Education. Active learning. Behavioral Economics, and Economic (classroom) experiments.Esther-Mirjam Sent. Department of Economics, Radboud University Nijmegen, P.O. Box 9108, 6500 HK Nijmegen, The Netherlands. E-mail: e.m.sent@fm.ru.nlCurrent themes of research:Economic Theory and Policy. History and Philosophy of Economics. Behavioral Economics. Experimental Economics. Economic Policy.Bregje de Vries. Department of Education, HAN University of Applied Sciences, P.O. Box 30011, 6503 HN Nijmegen, The Netherlands. E-mail: bregje.devries@han.nlCurrent themes of research:Designing Innovative Learning Arrangements.

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Grol, R., Sent, EM. & de Vries, B. Participate or observe? Effects of economic classroom experiments on students’ economic literacy. Eur J Psychol Educ 32, 289–310 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10212-016-0287-8

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Keywords

  • Economic classroom experiments
  • Economic literacy
  • Secondary education
  • Interactive
  • Constructive
  • Active
  • Passive

JEL Classification

  • A21
  • D00