‘GAMENOMICS’:

Changing the way we teach Economics

Teaching methods are best articulated by answering one basic question,“ What are the best ways of achieving the purpose of education?” Choice of appropriate teaching method is one of the most interesting and debatable issue where activity-based teaching separates itself from what we see in the traditional classroom.

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Games have the potential to allow students to experience simulations of reality that can replicate real world circumstances. Many students respond well to being involved in a game and the experience can fix a concept vividly in their minds

The objective of activity-based pedagogical practice is to enhance the course learning, beyond the traditional mode. But even today traditional teaching methods are more widespread than modern teaching methods because of certain common classroom constraints and challenges. Personally, even I find many challenges with activity-based teaching, one of the biggest challenge being pressure of completing the syllabus on time. But still I hold the view that activity-based learning indulge students in activities by stimulating their senses, such as sight, smell, vision or feeling, and getting them involved in the subject.

Being an Economics facilitator, I believe in moving beyond chalk and talk method to teach basic principles. Along with AV aids, worksheets, stimulations, I also use games to teach certain important concepts. Games have the potential to allow students to experience simulations of reality that can replicate real world circumstances. Many students respond well to being involved in a game and the experience can fix a concept vividly in their minds. I am sharing some interesting games that can be used to teach Economics senior secondary school curriculum. These games are cost effective and time friendly and leave a long lasting impact on students. Here are few from the kitty:

Age old Stapoo

Material required: chalk to draw stapoo grid

Time required: 30 minutes

This age-old game will help students to develop a deep understanding of monetary policy. This game can be played outside the classroom. Draw a conventional stapoo game on floor with 9 numbered divisions. The player starts the game by picking up a slip instead of throwing a stone inside the first square. The player hops in consecutive squares only after picking up a slip. Each slip to have either an expansionary or contractionary monetary policy measure. In case of expansionary policy, player automatically moves one square ahead and in case of contractionary policy, the player moves one step backwards. To add twist, make some blank slips as well. In case of blank slip, first player will discontinue and second player will get the chance and vice versa. The first player to cover the entire grid wins the game.This is a very interesting game to explain or recapitulate the concept of monetary policy.

Fire in the mountain

Material required: None

Time required: 30 minutes

We all must have played this game at least once in our life. Fire in the mountain, with a twist can be used to explain different types of sampling. In conventional fire in the mountain, students group themselves according to number announced by the leader and students left out from grouping leaves the game. Student to stay till last will win. Here a different set of instructions for grouping students can be used such as:

  • Group on the basis of your allotted house colour (stratified sampling).
  • Group on the basis of residential areas (cluster sampling).
  • Arrange height wise and every nth student will win (systematic sampling).

This one is my favourite and is one of the best way to explain methods of sampling.

Dumb Charades

Material required: None

Time required: 20 minutes

Almost all of us have played this game. This game can be used to recapitulate any concept. Basically, dumb charades is a name guessing game and it can add lot of excitement and fun to your class. I usually make students play this game after completing one book of Economics.

Trade the chocolate

Material required: Chewing gums, chocolates, pen and paper to record observations

Time required: 30 minutes

Split class in two groups. Half of the students are provided with an endowment of chewing gum and other half with chocolates. Pair students with chewing gum with those having chocolates. Students with chewing gum will be asked to make trading decisions with their partner to acquire chocolate. Each pair will be asked to record the deal in each round. As the opportunity cost of acquiring a piece of chocolate rises, fewer students are willing to make trades. This interactive classroom exercise illustrates three fundamental economic concepts: the law of demand, opportunity costs, and law of diminishing marginal utility.

Spin the story

Material required: Story flash cards (self-prepared )

Time required: 30 minutes

This game can be used to teach topics involving comparison like different forms of market structures. Divide class in four groups. Give a jumbled pack of flash cards to each group. Each pack of card will have story describing each type of market structure. Team that will spin story in minimum time limit will win. After each team spins the story, they will share it with class. Almost all market features will be covered in the story. This method is interesting and time effective too. Relating market structures with story line leaves a long lasting impact on students. Only challenge with this method is to prepare flash cards. Once prepared, they can be stored and used for upcoming batches.

Freeze the frame

Material required: None

Time required: 20 minutes

This game is best suited to take topics in Indian Economics that involve transition to a new set of policies. For example, students can be called and asked to dramatise economic policies adopted by Indian government between 1950-90 within a specific period of time. Once act is complete, students will be asked to freeze. Then call next batch of students to replace existing students with what they expect from new set of policies. Once students replace existing policies, teachers can introduce the concept of NEP 1991. This activity can be used to recapitulate chapters of Indian Economic Development as well. No advance preparation or material is required to conduct this activity.

Labour market deal

Material required: None

Time required: 30 minutes

To begin with, students are given the scenario in which they will play the role of either an employer and labour in a fictitious labour market. The market will have two different trading periods. The initial period will be devoted to unrestricted transactions, where the participants become accustomed to their roles and the market converges towards a competitive equilibrium. In next trading period, a binding price floor (minimum wage control) will be imposed. Two periods of trade with and without control will help to make students aware of excess supply conditions. Activity can be followed with review questions such as:

Why were there students who wanted a job, yet were unable to get one?
What can be the role of government to rectify the disequilibrium ?

Auction

Material required: Bottle of coke(or any other commodity)

Time required: 20 minutes

On a warm day, bring nice-cold Coke-bottles to class. Ask how many students would be willing to pay Rs. 10 for one bottle; then Rs. 20; and so on. Tabulate and graph the result. Then ask students to assume that the day was really a relatively colder and repeat the exercise to explain the shift of demand curve.

Make the plane

Material required: Paper and stapler

Time required: 30 minutes

Provide students with lots of paper and a stapler. Divide the class into large groups (say, eight or more per group). Provide each group with a table as production room. Table and stapler will be the fixed capital input. The group is to produce as many stapled airplanes in a stipulated time, say 1 minute time period. Start with no labor situation when production will be zero. Then increase to labour one by one in a gap of 15 seconds; have the group record total production (TPP) in 1 minute time-span. Let the groups compute, tabulate, and graph their TPP, APP, and MPP. They should get something more or less bizarrely similar to the nice textbook curves.

Games have been used as a learning tool for centuries. Try at least one game in your class and believe me it will help in fruitful engagement and sustained motivation in learning.

Games have been used as a learning tool for centuries. Try at least one game in your class and believe me it will help in fruitful engagement and sustained motivation in learning.

Dedicated and goal-driven professional educator with a strong commitment to the social and academic growth and development of every child, Dr. Priyanka Raheja is highly motivated, enthusiastic and dedicated educator who wants all children to be successful learners. As self-directed, action-oriented professional with over 10 years’ experience in education and community service she has proven abilities in problem solving, people management and motivation. She strives to build student self-esteem and encourage understanding of cultural diversity, gender differences and physical limitations by creating a cooperative community in the classroom; model for students the importance of mutual respect and cooperation among all community members. A traveler by heart, she is believer of the fact that although as teachers we also go on learning every day and the life, itself, consists of life-long learning and the desire to learn!