Case method teaching in macroeconomics: a game-based approach

The case method is a teaching approach whose goal is to get students to analyse a real-world situation so that they gain skills in critical thinking and reflect on the political and economic implications of what they are learning. On its part, gamification constitutes an alternative teaching approach which seeks to increase students motivation by incorporating game mechanics into the learning process. Both approaches constitute active-learning methodologies whose aim is to make students to actively engage in the teaching-learning process and thereby increase students overall performance on the course.

This paper presents a study on the performance of the case method implemented through game dynamics as a teaching strategy in macroeconomics. Namely, it seeks to assess how students perceive the added-value of this methodology within five different dimensions: (1) usefulness of this methodology to gain meaningful learning and a better understanding of economic reality; (2) course-specific impacts of this methodology  in terms of increasing students motivation and their understanding of the course content; (3) assessment of the game-based case method as a learning methodology in comparison to traditional lectures; (4) assessment of the gamified approach through which the case method was applied and (5) additional benefits of incorporating the case method into the teaching of the course.

To achieve this aim, the following study was performed: first, the case method was carried out in two rounds. In a first round, students had to read and analyse on their own a real economic case by providing answers to a number of questions the professor had assigned them with in order to guide their reading and analysis. In this first phase of the activity students could obtain a certain number of points in each question they had provided a reasoned answer to. In the second round, students could improve their first round score by means of taking part in a discussion session led by the professor in class along which the different issues brought up in the case were summarized. Students thereby were confronted with their answers while having the opportunity of gaining further points by amending or enhancing their answers. Finally, students were asked to fill an anonymous survey through which they would assess the five dimensions previously outlined.

The study was therefore performed by means of applying this methodology to two cases along the course of macroeconomics II in the Degree of Economics. Namely, seventy seven students took part in the two phases previously described. The results obtained show that students found the case method as a highly useful tool within the five dimensions set out. In overall terms, about 94% of the students positively assess the incorporation of this teaching strategy into the course.

It can therefore be concluded that teaching in macroeconomics could benefit from incorporating active learning-teaching techniques. Namely, the case method implemented by means of a game-based approach seems to be very positively perceived by students in terms of achieving greater student motivation, meaningful learning and active involvement.

Palabras clave

Case Method Gamification Macroeconomics

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Helena Domínguez Torres

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