Learning by Teaching

Our master’s level course on Economics and Computation is given in the form of a seminar, using the principle of “learning by teaching“. We are quite happy with the current setup, so here I’d like to share some of the details.

The objectives of the course are first, that students can recognize situations where both computational and strategic aspects play a role and have an overview of known results, and second, that they have some in-depth experience with at least one of such situations (so, T-shaped).


As in many seminar-based courses, students are asked to form pairs and select one of the chapters in the book to prepare. What I think is less common, is that we ask them not only to give a (preferably interactive) lecture on that chapter, but also to select learning objectives, prepare and check homework exercises, and to prepare exam questions. We support them in a one-to-one meeting to discuss the lecture plan, where we also discuss the basics of teaching: aligning learning objectives, instructional method, and the assessment, and stress that learning occurs based on student activities, and is no direct consequence of activities of the teacher.

Next to this, students are asked to write an extension to their selected chapter: which topic in the literature is related but not included in the book? To be able to do this, students need to look into the literature (besides the book), and write about what they have read in their own words. Their first draft then is peer-reviewed, requiring them to think also about how their own text comes across to other students.

I think with this, we very effectively meet the learning objectives we set for our course: students get actively involved in the material and simultaneously practice with skills that are useful in any future job such as finding literature, explaining, and writing. Perhaps this setup is useful for some other courses as well?

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