This book is intended for students who have not taken any previous economics courses (although, even those who have had some training seem to enjoy and benefit from the experiments). It can be used either as the main text in an introductory course or as a supplement to a traditional principles textbook. The book alternates ``experimental chapters'' and ``discussion chapters.'' The alternation between experiment and discussion sets the rhythm of the class. In the lab, students participate and experience a type of market or social interaction. As they complete their lab reports, they organize their thoughts about what happened. At the next class meeting they are ready to discuss the experimental results and to consider theoretical explanations for these results.
The experimental chapters typically include an introduction, instructions for a classroom experiment, and a ``lab report.'' The classroom experiments are conducted ``by hand,'' without the use of computers or elaborate apparatus. In the lab report, students record the results, perform elementary data analysis, and answer questions that encourage them to speculate on the significance of what they have observed. The discussion chapters introduce economic theories that partially explain the experimental results. The discussion chapters also include homework assignments in which students are asked to compare experimental results with theoretical predictions and to explore the implications of the theories for real-world problems.
These experiment-discussion modules are designed to be sufficiently independent from each other that instructors can rearrange the order of presentation topics or can omit topics as desired.