The Economics Network

Improving economics teaching and learning for over 20 years

Key Contacts Conference 2011

Monday 5th September 2011, London School of Economics and Political Science

This day was designed for Key Contacts (representatives from Economics departments in the UK with an interest in Economics education) but open to all DEE 2011 attendees. It included sessions on Designing Induction Programmes and Using Games and Experiments.

Designing Induction Programmes was run by Prof Alison Wride. Alison Wride is an Associate Professor in Economics at the University of Exeter Business School and was Head of Undergraduate Studies and then Deputy Director for the period 2005-2010. She is spending 2010-11 on sabbatical and is based at the Treasury working with the Government Economic Service as their Senior Academic Adviser on Education. In 2007 Alison was the recipient of the Vice Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in recognition of her role in leading on the transformation of the student experience at Exeter and in 2009 she received a National Teaching Fellowship for the impact of her work across the sector. Her session looked at running and designing successful induction programmes.

A successful induction programme can be key to effectively managing student expectations from the very start – including expectations of how and when students will study and be assessed, to what kind of support they will receive from their department. Induction programmes can also help students meet and make relationships with others and contribute to a sense of belonging to their department – aspects of academic life students, against a backdrop of increasing fees, are increasingly demanding. This session will include case studies and examples of effective induction programmes and activities.

Using Games and Experiments was run by Jon Guest, Dieter Balkenborg and Sara Talloo.

Jon Guest is a Senior Lecturer in the Economics Department at Coventry University and an Associate of the Economics Network. He received the Economics Network Student Nominated teaching award in 2005 and the Teaching Excellence Award at Coventry University in 2008. He was formally recognised as a ‘Government Economic Service Approved Tutor’ in September 2005. His session looked at using games and experiments to teach economics.

Prof Dieter Balkenborg is the joint Director and co-founder (with Professor Todd Kaplan) of the Finance and Economics Experimental Laboratory at Exeter (FEELE). Established in 2004, the laboratory has been used by researchers from all over the UK to conduct economic experiments. Professor Balkenborg obtained HEFCE funding for the FDTL5 project 'Bringing Economic Experiments into the Classroom', extending the use of FEELE to support teaching and learning. In particular, the FEELE website now offers 15 interactive computerised experiments which are used worldwide. Along with research officer for the lab, Tim Miller, Professor Balkenborg recently obtained the eLearning prize in the Economics Network Annual Teaching and Learning Awards 2009.

Sara was working on her PhD in Experimental Economics. For over two years she has held computerized economic experiments sessions, often with up to 70 students, for intermediate microeconomics and for a specialised experimental economics module.

Games and experiments are an excellent way for economics students to learn by doing and apply theory and models to different scenarios. This session led by example, with delegates participating in a selection of games and experiments. It will involve discussing practicalities of playing games, including resources, instructions, timings and guidance on post-game student discussion.