Teaching Economics with Excel


While the content of the typical undergraduate economics course has remained stable in recent decades, computers have become more powerful, easier to use, and as common as pencil and paper. In spite of these developments, teaching methods in the classroom remain virtually unchanged, with chalk-and-talk the dominant mode of delivery. This two-day professional development workshop will demonstrate how to utilize computer-based, active learning techniques to teach economics in a variety of subfields and at different levels, enabling participants to create new course materials and content.

The workshop is designed to provide both ready-to-go classroom material and tools that can be used to generate your own examples and content. You can test drive a single application and gradually expand your teaching repertoire. This is an ideal, low cost way to improve and re-energize a course you have taught many times or to create an entirely new course.

Individual lectures, lab modules, or entire courses can be reworked and enhanced, including flipping the classroom. Each day concludes with time for participants to explore workbooks and ideas on their own, with consultation if needed.

Target Audience: Economics and Business

Each year, I tweak the topics. Scroll down to see past workshops. This year, I am targeting microeconomics and managerial economics. The first day is devoted to basic tools (add-ins) and the second day focuses on micro and manageral topics. In addition to economists, professors in business schools, especially those who teach finance and quantitative courses, are especially welcome. Participants will gain a fresh look at how to teach and improve their course content, delivery, and effectiveness.


Dr. Barreto is interested in using computers (especially Microsoft Excel) to improve the teaching and learning of economics. He is the Q. G. Noblitt Professor of Economics and Management at DePauw University and has published papers and books on pedagogy, including (with Frank M. Howland) Introductory Econometrics using Monte Carlo Simulation with Microsoft Excel (Cambridge University Press, 2006), Intermediate Microeconomics with Microsoft Excel (Cambridge University Press, 2009) and Teaching Macroeconomics with Microsoft Excel (Cambridge Univeristy Press, 2016). He has been a Fulbright Scholar, won several teaching awards, and has presented the materials used in this workshop at many colleges and universities around the world. 

Dates and Location

June 4 and 5, 2018 in the computer lab at Concordia University Irvine's Grimm Hall in Irvine, California.

If you prefer, guest wifi is available for your laptop (Windows with Excel, of course, or a Mac emulating Windows is required).

We will begin on Monday, June 4, 2018, at 8:30 AM and follow the schedule below.




The first day will focus on general-purpose tools that can be applied to any course. We will begin with Excel's built-in numerical optimization add-in, Solver, and then learn how to use the Comparative Statics Wizard add-in. The MCSim add-in is a powerful, free tool that enables easy simulation and is ideal for statistics and econometrics courses. The FRED add-in offers instant access to the St. Louis Fed's FRED data resource directly from Excel. Finally, we will use Excel to create population pyramids for countries, with projections to 2050.

The second day is devoted to topics in Intermediate Microeconomics and Managerial Economics. We will work with pre-prepared Excel workbooks to show how to derive demand and supply curves and see a novel application of a cost minimization problem. The afternoon sessions will showcase how Excel can be used to teach optimal portfolio theory and solve an investment problem with native Excel NPV and IRR functions.


Costs and Funding

This workshop is made possible by generous support from DePauw University and Concordia University. There is a non-refundable $30 registration fee to attend. Participants are responsible for all lodging (see below) and transportation costs.


Questions and Registration

Email hbarreto@depauw.edu if you have questions or would like further information.

Space is limited to the first 24 who register. Participants will be accepted on a first-come-first-served basis and registration will close on May 30.

Register here: Teaching Economics with Excel Workshop Registration


Concordia University Irvine has arranged a special rate of $125 per night plus tax at the Wyndham Irvine Orange County Airport hotel. This hotel is just a couple of miles from the John Wayne Airport (SNA) and offers a courtesy shuttle to and from the airport. Concordia University Irvine is located about 3 miles south from the hotel. Reservations can be made by visiting the Wyndham Irvine Orange County Airport web page or calling (949) 863-1999 and using corporate code 49281802.


Previous Workshops

Click on a date below to see a list of participants, comments, photos, and a description of that year's workshop:

June 8 - 9, 2017

May 27 - 28, 2016

May 28 - 29, 2015

June 13 - 14, 2014

June 12 - 14, 2013

June 13 - 15, 2012

June 22 - 24, 2011

June 16 - 18, 2010

You can also view a map of all Econ Excel Workshop Home Institutions. Faculty from a wide variety of institutions, ranging from small liberal arts colleges to large state universities and a few international schools, have attended.

Last Updated: 22 March 2018