Classroom Games in Economics: A Quantitative Assessment of the `Beer Game'

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Working paper
Michael McMahon
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University of Warwick
Using an experiment, I compare the use of the ‘Beer Distribution’ classroom game with the more traditional ‘chalk and talk’ approach to teach students about inventories and the macroeconomy. My empirical results confirm and extend our understanding of the relative strengths and weaknesses of the use of classroom games: the game tends to improve interest and motivation on average, though some students dislike their use; the game is effective at driving home its key messages, but it may wrongly lead students to disregard other important factors; the game is inferior where facts mastery or definitional learning is required. Rather than an endorsement or a criticism of classroom games, the conclusion is cautionary advice on how to best make use of games within an overall course.
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