Interactive Web-based Simulations to Teach Econometrics: Making Abstract Concepts Tangible

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We develop a series of publicly available interactive web-based modules and instructor materials to help students learn econometric concepts ranging from sampling distributions to omitted variable bias. The pedagogical literature supports using simulations to help students understand abstract statistical concepts but also cautions that ill-designed simulations may be ineffective. Most simulation tools currently available constrain users’ parameter choices, require excessive programming infrastructure, or lack real-world economics examples. Our modules allow students to experiment with inputs like sample size, number of replications, and underlying population distributions; students then see the impacts of their choices displayed visually in tables, histograms, and scatter plots. The modules can be used in classroom demonstrations or group activities in computer labs but also have sufficient instructions to allow independent exploration.

Tanya Byker, Amanda Gregg, and Dylan Mortimer