This web site has a set of standalone computer labs for an Introductory Economics course. The student uses Microsoft Word and Excel to answer questions. Students fill in a lab journal containing their answers. Completed journals can be printed or electronically submitted. Answer keys are available to instructors who must first obtain a password.
The materials on this web site were used for an article published in the Journal of Economic Education and made available online on 18 January 2012: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00220485.2012.636717
Access the Labs
Click the LABS link (in the Menu at the top right) to expand the menu and access the labs one at a time. After clicking on the LABS link, you will have the option of downloading a compressed archive of all of the labs (instead of having to download each individual lab).
The LABS link quickly reveals the material covered, but we also offer a Quick Tour of topics with brief explanations of the content of each lab.
Content and Philosophy
The concepts covered are fundamental and ubiquitous in Introductory Economics, so these labs will work with any textbook. Each lab is self-contained, allowing the instructor to pick and choose from the labs. Each lab can be shortened or modified as the instructor sees fit.
The underlying pedagogical strategy is similar to natural science labs where students learn by doing. The labs are self-driven, with students answering a series of questions leading to discovery of a concept. Each lab takes several hours to complete so they can be started in class (with the professor offering individual help) and completed as homework or assigned to be done outside of class. Questions are often open-ended, requiring students to engage individually with the material and create their own answers in their own words. As such, these labs are best suited for smaller classes/sections or as enrichment exercises.
The visual feedback and student-centered pedagogy provides an alternative to the usual chalk-and-talk approach to the material. In addition to theory, students learn how to download and analyze real-world data. Students learn not just economics, but Excel skills such as sorting, concatenation, and charting.
Little Excel knowledge is initially required, but for students who are unfamiliar with spreadsheets, a basic Excel skills document (in the ExcelBasics folder) reviews how to make a chart and other fundamentals. Use this document to ensure that every student has the prerequisite background and as a resource for students.
These labs have been used for several years and refined based on student feedback. Thus, they are field tested and ready for use in the classroom. We thank our students and anonymous JEE referees for improving these labs. We welcome your corrections or suggestions.
Please contact us if you have feedback or need any help.