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Comparing Student Achievement across Experimental and Lecture-Oriented Sections of a Principles of Microeconomics Course


  • Tisha L. N. Emerson

    () (Department of Economics, Baylor University)

  • Beck A. Taylor

    () (Department of Economics, Baylor University)


An increasingly popular alternative to the lecture-oriented “chalk-and-talk” approach to teaching principles of microeconomics is the use of classroom experiments. Like other alternatives to traditional teaching methods, there exists little more than anecdotal evidence supporting the effectiveness of the experimental approach. We estimate the effect of participating in classroom experiments on student achievement in a principles of microeconomics course. Nine sections (300 students) participated in the study, two of which (59 students) relied heavily on classroom experiments throughout the semester. The remaining seven sections (241 students) used no experiments. We find that students in the experimental sections experienced significantly higher gains in Test of Understanding in College Economics (TUCE) scores but differed little on other more qualitative outcomes. Additionally, results indicate that certain student characteristics, including gender, major, and grade point average, can be used to predict a student’s likely success when choosing between courses that rely on experiments and those that employ more traditional forms of pedagogy.

Suggested Citation

  • Tisha L. N. Emerson & Beck A. Taylor, 2004. "Comparing Student Achievement across Experimental and Lecture-Oriented Sections of a Principles of Microeconomics Course," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 672-693, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:sej:ancoec:v:70:3:y:2004:p:672-693

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