Experiments have become a popular method in Economic Education. A brief overview.

What are economic experiments?

The OX-Lab is where economic experiments are performed. They are primarily used as an innovative, action-oriented teaching and learning method, offering further potential for modern lessons in Economic Education. Using economic teaching experiments (also known as classroom experiments), economic knowledge can be reconstructed in a didactic manner, and decision-making situations can be simulated and analysed, taking behavioural economic effects into account.
Some examples of economic experiments include:

Individual choice experiments e.g. experiments about rationality, fairness, risk and effects in the field ob behavioural economics
Game theory experiments e.g. prisoners´ dilemma, ultimatum-games
Market experiments e.g. market simulations and economic policy

Experiments in economic lessons

Classroom experiments are increasingly important as a methodological framework for teaching-learning processes in Economic Education. They are particularly suitable in revealing the abstract structure of typical economic life situations. Classroom experiments are a research-oriented form of experiential learning because the participants—in contrast to scientific experiments—are acting and deciding actors; they are always part of the experimental setting. Learners can gain individual experience within the simulated reality. They become active themselves in a playful manner, observing their own behaviour and that of others, as well as reflecting on the results of the experiments in an analytical way.

Preparation and evaluation

Economic experiments are now an established method in economic research. As classroom experiments, they enable students to gain inductive, action-oriented access to subject-specific content. Research on and experiences with students and teachers show that experiments have a high potential to motivate, not least because of their ability to spur participants into action and partly because of their playful nature.


However, the use of experiments does not ensure successful learning. Follow-up work is crucial, as teaching experiments offer learning opportunities in the initial first stage. The Oldenburg Experimental Laboratory for Economic Education focuses on an interactive analysis of the experiments, taking scientific principles into account. Use of the materials and results for follow-up in-class work lay the foundations to embed these experiments into lessons in Economics.

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