Academic Value

Instructors: Teach and Learn at the Same Time

Students may often question the tidy world of equations and stylized facts they are presented with in class. How can you build that bridge between what they do know and what you would like them to know? There are already many experiments that focus on key social science topics such as markets, elections, public goods, decision-making under risk and uncertainty, social preferences and so on. By running these experiments in an intuitive and interactive web-based format with your students, they will remember what's important in each of these environments to reinforce your lectures. As the old adage goes, "seeing is believing"; there is no better way to strengthen the students' belief in what you teach.

Each expected or surprising result in an experiment is an opportunity to teach the students by guiding them to discover the answer for themselves. Your students can also get valuable hands-on experience analyzing the data they generate in each experiment and suggesting interesting treatments based on the analysis. In this system, there is no limit to the kinds of experiments and surveys that can be run. If you can design it, it can be realized. Furthermore, none of the usual physical barriers apply. You can run experiments with your class and another class at another school to demonstrate inter-group vs. intra-group competition. Absent students can still easily participate in these web-based experiments at their convenience.

Values to both experienced instructors who have run many experiments and those first-time experimenters

  • EV is designed and implemented with robustness and flexibility in mind to handle large and at times ad-hoc classroom experiments and make the operations of such experiments easy and intuitive for all parties involved.
  • EV is pre-loaded with many popular game templates, including bargaining, matrix games, public goods, voting, auctions and markets, from which experiment instances can be parameterized and instantiated effortlessly.
  • Previously run experiments can be easily cloned and imported for a new course or project, so there is no work lost.
  • In addition to the flash-based attractive game displays, EV offers experimenters immediate and clear summary of results, and convenient ways to download raw data and upload compiled reports.
  • EV seamlessly integrates all the experiments so that cross-experiment performance can be easily gauged.
  • EV offers a set of generic feature widgets, such as chat and survey, that can be included in any experiments. Some of the features can help to expand the interactive possibilities among participants, while others to collection feedback information before or after experiments.

Students: Beyond the Textbook

Instead of just looking at the supply and demand curves in a graph, you will experience them in a simulated market. There is no better way to grasp the equilibrium concept than through spirited rounds of buying and selling assets.

Instead of just staring at a matrix of payoffs and solving for the Nash equilibrium, you will figure out all the strategic considerations a player might have in a variety of games by playing them with your classmates.

Instead of just reading about theories of decision-making in different environments, you can think like a firm in a market entry or oligopoly game, think like a committee member in a voting game, or think like a negotiator in a bargaining game.

By participating in these web-based experiments, you will have a richer understanding of simple and complex economic and social interactions. Every time you make a decision in an experiment, you get another peek into the black box of models and theories that try to explain the world around you. Perhaps just as importantly, you will gather new insights into how you make decisions and interact with others. Just like the personality quizzes you might take for fun, a series of fun experiments can also form an informative character profile. Furthermore, you will get immediate and easy to process results from the experiments. These results will supplement your course material and guide you towards distilling each class down to the key concepts.