Simulation Based Learning: Tax Basics for Teens

Educator utilizes simulation-based learning to teach students about tax basics.
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About this Micro-credential

Apply for a micro-credential before December 22nd, 2017 for a $75 Amazon gift card!*

*Offer valid until 12/22/2017. To receive a gift card, participant must complete all portions of the micro-credential application including the optional survey. Gift cards will be awarded in the form of Amazon eGift Cards emailed to the account specified by the participant. Each participant can receive maximum one gift card. GFLEC reserves the right to withdraw this offer at any time.

Key Method

The educator understands the benefits of active learning and chooses or creates a simulation to engage students in real-world financial decisions to communicate the importance of tax basics.

Method Components

What is a simulation?

Simulations are educational tools that replicate real-world situations in a controlled setting in which students are faced with decisions and their consequences in order to develop knowledge or skill sets.

Components of a simulation:

  • Goal: Which facts, skills, or behaviors should the students learn by completing the simulation?
  • Resources: The physical and/or digital resources that will be used during the simulation.
  • Environment: This is the conceptual framework or “story” in which the students are placed.
  • Roles: What is the role for each student during the simulation?
  • Rules: Guidelines for completion of the simulation.
  • Evaluation Method: How will the students’ performance be evaluated? Will it be based on completion, quality of work, or a desired outcome?
  • Debriefing: Reviewing the activity to reinforce the goals of the simulation.

(Adapted from Zapalska, Brozik & Rudd, 2012)

Suggested Implementation:

  1. Introduce completing basic tax paperwork as a personal finance skill and discuss the purposes and benefits of correctly completing tax paperwork.
  2. Choose a digital tax simulation (fully online or a software program) to utilize with your classroom (See the resources section).
  3. Review the purpose, instructions, and evaluation method with the students.
  4. End the lesson with a reinforcement activity that prompts the students to reflect upon the lessons learned during the simulation. This could be in a form of a full-class discussion or written reflection.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

Completing basic tax paperwork is an important financial skill, but is one that is largely unpracticed by teenagers. While many teens earn money and are likely entitled to a refund, only 3% claim they have filled out an income tax form (“Teens and Personal Finance”). Simulations provide students an opportunity to learn about taxes and experience elements of the “real world” within the safety and comfort of a classroom. A large percentage of students view educational games favorably, stating that they believe simulation games can help them better develop their knowledge and skills of class content (Wardaszko & Jakubowski, 2013). It is important to understand that while simulations are enjoyable for students and educators, the most crucial part of implementing a simulation or game is the reflection period after completion, when students can review the lessons learned (Zapalska, Brozik & Rudd, 2012).


Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

The items in this following section detail what must be submitted for evaluation. To earn the micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Parts 1 and 3, and a “Yes” for both artifacts submitted for Part 2.

Part 1. Overview Questions

(200-word limit):

  • How did you use background knowledge to set up this lesson about tax basics?

Part 2. Work Examples/Artifacts

  • Option A: Submit the materials for the simulation (or hyperlink if digital) and a written rationale (maximum of 200 words) that explains why it was chosen. Submit at least two samples of students’ written responses to the reflection questions.

  • Option B: Submit a video of the classroom discussion and notes used to prepare for the discussion from three students. The video should be 5 to 15 minutes in duration.

Part 3. Teacher Reflection

Provide a reflection of what you learned, using the following questions as guidance (150-word limit):

  • How did this technique help you communicate this personal finance content to your students?

  • Which other personal finance topics can this teaching technique be used for in the classroom?

Part 4. Survey (Optional)

Please answer a brief survey about your experience teaching personal finance. Your responses will:

  • help us understand barriers personal finance teachers face;
  • and help us improve the resources being offered to personal finance educators

We appreciate your help.

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


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