The Economics Network

Improving economics teaching and learning for over 20 years

A class experiment to reinforce the marginal utility/price maximization rule (external case study)


This paper presents an in-class experiment used as a teaching tool in an introductory microeconomics class at the undergraduate college level. It is directed at a critical but challenging concept for principles students—constrained utility maximization and a methodology to intuit preferences. The experimental project is nested in the literature pertaining to the current transition in microeconomic theory motivated by contributions from behavioral economics and transactions-cost economics, among other elements; modern pedagogical models; experimental economics; and experiments as in-classroom teaching tools. While not dispositive as to the general efficacy of in-class experiments, the paper provides an example of an alternative instructional approach which is helpful to principles students under strictly defined protocols. The benefits to students include heightened understanding of the core subject topic, greater interest in the subject matter, a closer connection to real-world economics, and enhanced critical thinking capabilities.


Full article in IREE (paywalled)