Students in front of lab computers

Students participate in experiments for cash.

June 24-28, 2019 Every summer, high school students from across Southern California and beyond meet at Chapman University for a week long workshop on experimental economics.

Hosted by the Economic Science Institute at Chapman University and generously funded by the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics (IFREE) and Thomas W. Smith Foundation, the workshop aims to expose high school students to economics and the experimental approach to economics. No prior experience in economics is necessary as many participants have little to no exposure beforehand. However, many leave with a new interest in economics.

One student described the 2019 workshop as “…an experience that I’ll remember for a lifetime! I’ve learned so much this week about things I never knew before.”

Students outside working together

Students work together on economic questions and problems.

What makes the workshop so memorable and enjoyable for students? It is the workshop’s unique structure that combines experiments, lectures, group activities, and discussions. The workshop is not long lectures all day, but what one student described as “an opportunity to actually experience economics.” Students participate in real experiments as naïve subjects would while earning cash. After an experiment is complete, the results are shared and a related lecture is discussed. This gives students the opportunity to observe and discuss their own behavior before and after learning about the theory. One student shared their opinion, saying, “I loved the experimental approach as it helps in learning the concepts as well as it keeps me engaged. It was also motivating with the idea of real money involved.”

Students in a classroomThe workshop was led again by Dr. Andrew Smyth, Assistant Professor of Economics at Marquette University. “This year’s workshop brought a great group of talented high school studends to Chapman for a fun-filled week. Learning economics through experiments really helps concepts sink in and ensures that the discipline comes across as anything but dismal!” Smyth says.

One student summed up the workshop best: “It’s fun, I earned cash, and I learned a lot!”

Here is what students had to say about the workshop:

    • “I feel like economics in general is very important to learn in the future. This workshop had a very fun and creative way to teach economics to students who are new to it and even if the students need learn about it they are able to look at another way of economics. Additionally, it is nice to see the different aspects of what economics can be like.”
    • “I would recommend this workshop to others because it was a great way to learn about an important topic, while also being paid, and making new friends.”
    • “Thank you for providing a great experience here at Chapman, I will cherish these memories for a long time and have learned more during this one week span than I could have through a class at school.”
High School Workshop group photo

The annual workshop is held on the Chapman University campus each summer and is free for students to attend.

Thank you to the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics (IFREE) and Thomas W. Smith Foundation for sponsoring this workshop.

For more information on conferences, graduate and high school level workshops, and the Summer Scholar program hosted at the Economic Science Institute, please visit the Economic Science Institute’s home page.