The use of classroom experiments as a teaching-learning activity in economics courses is now well established and a healthy practitioners' literature has evolved around this topic. What is less satisfactory is the paucity of literature relating the adoption of these methods to the more generalised precepts of learning theory. As a result, advocates of classroom experiments have typically failed to articulate the rationale for their adoption in terms of the attainment by students of intended learning outcomes. This paper attempts to bridge this gap, using Biggs' principle of 'constructive alignment' as a framework. It is argued that there is potentially excellent alignment between the objectives of economics teaching and the use of experiments as a teaching-learning activity. However, this alignment may be distorted by inappropriate assessment. In particular, the practice of grading students on the profits they earn in experimental markets emphasises individual decision-making over higher-order understanding of the relationship between individual choices and the dynamics and outcomes in a market as a whole.
Cheung, S. L. (2003). On the Use of Classroom Experiments in “Aligned” Teaching. Economic Analysis and Policy, 33(1), 61–72. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0313-5926(03)50005-4