The View from 30,000 Feet: using paper airplanes to understand economic modeling

Wayne Geerling, G. Dirk Mateer, Brian O'Roark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review


This paper describes an active-learning technique for teaching how models evolve over time. Models lie at the heart of economic analysis, yet many students struggle because they lack the spatial skills to interpret the models. We expand on the work of Geerling and Mateer (2014), who showed that using a paper airplane experiment in class was a great way of showing principles-level students how we build simple, yet effective models. What is less intuitive is that a paper plane experiment is also an ideal starting point to discuss how economic models evolve over time in an intermediate macroeconomics class.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-24
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Economics and Finance Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • active learning
  • experiments
  • economic models

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