The Economics Network

Improving economics teaching and learning for over 20 years

Group presentations on a topical economic issue

The aim is to get students together in groups to reflect on a current economic issue. They have to prepare a group presentation in role on the issue. There is voting to select a winning group.

Topics that could be chosen include:

  • A case before the WTO
  • A set of Budget decisions
  • A meeting of the MPC
  • A G7 meeting
  • Ways to achieve higher long-term economic growth
  • Ways to reduce unemployment
  • What the economy will look like in 20 years' time

The students are first given some preliminary information, though handouts, short video/audio clips and a very brief lecture (5 to 10 minutes). The students are then sorted into groups of 5 or 6 and then have 30 to 40 minutes to prepare a group presentation on the topic.

The group presentations should not only be informative and well argued, they should be entertaining - after all, the idea of the event is to attract students to study economics! Students should be instructed to do their presentations in role and simulate some event, such as a news conference, a national or an international meeting/conference, a television or radio programme (e.g. BBC1's Question Time or BBC Radio 4's Your Witness or The Moral Maze), a play, a negotiating session, etc.

Students should present in role. In some cases this may mean that each student represents a particular interest group, such as particular countries' governments, the EU, trade unions, an environmental pressure group, an international organisation such as the WTO or the IMF, the Bank of England or other central banks, home owners, shareholders, etc. In other cases it might mean each student being part of the same organisation: e.g. different government ministers or different managers in a company.

When each of the presentations has been made, students then vote (but not for their own team!). Each student gives two marks of 1, 2 or 3 for each group. The first mark should be for academic content, clarity and relevance of the argument and how well it addresses the issue. The second mark should be for the entertainment value of the presentation. The incentive here is to get presenters to think imaginatively and it makes the whole exercise more fun.

With large numbers of students, the exercise can be done in two rounds. Round 1 would be in two or more separate rooms containing 3 or 4 groups per room. Each room has a set of presentations and voting as above, and there is a winning group from each room. Everyone then meets for the finals, where the winning groups from each room repeat their presentations. Voting takes place again as above to select the overall winner. Prizes can be given!