Teacher Spotlight — Linda Ryan-Catt

What has been your favorite part of Budget Challenge as a teacher? 

I appreciated the well-developed, student-friendly curriculum.  The videos provided a great intro and conclusion for face-to-face instruction.  The students could click to find good notes for each day’s instruction, freeing them to engage in class discussions and exercises—not worrying to write notes because they were already easily accessible.  If students were absent, material was very available to them….AND, of course, the material adapted itself very well to the COVID-19 situation when classes had to go online. I appreciated that there were units of instruction with knowledge check quizzes.  This information provided a wonderful framework for teacher presentation and gave the students needed information. The simulation supported and put money management into action.  It is a package deal.

What is the biggest challenge as a teacher when using Budget Challenge? 

The biggest challenge for teachers always seems to be the same: to keep students motivated and disciplined to stay engaged and complete work in a timely manner. Paying bills is such a simple procedure and several students tended to just not take the time to complete the task. Work, projects, writing papers, all seemed to be more important than taking a few minutes to take care of the simulation. The results were effective to make students see what happens in real life when they do not respond to their financial obligations.

What is the biggest challenge for students participating in Budget Challenge? 

I think that students would reiterate the response to the former question. It is hard to make a simple task which does not require all that much time a top priority when you have pressures and pressing issues associated with life. It is a task one often puts off because it doesn’t take much time.  Unfortunately, that time is often delayed to the point of no return.

Are there any tips you can give to new teachers using Budget Challenge? 

Take time in class to introduce the Budget Challenge program, explain expenses, vendors, etc. and use class time to set up spreadsheets so that questions can be answered and frustrations minimized.  If students do not have a clear concept of the project and if they are not organized, they will not become engaged and they will fail.  Also, allow some time during class at the beginning of the course for students to respond to their reminder emails, pay bills, transfer funds, adjust their budget, etc. when the instructor can answer questions and engage students in the activity.  After a few classes, students should assume these tasks on their own time and either contact the Help Desk or the instructor with questions outside of class.

How have your students responded to Budget Challenge? 

In an evaluation of the class utilizing the Budget Challenge curriculum, students responded favorably to the course.  They did not necessarily enjoy the material, but deemed it good information that provided hands-on experiences emulating real life.  Most felt that they will be more successful with money management as a result of experiencing Budget Challenge.

Do you have a Budget Challenge story that is especially memorable? 

One of my students complained that he found the simulation tedious and annoying because he was constantly having to go into Budget Challenge to pay bills, transfer money, etc.  Welcome to real life - only this simulation helped them get through the process more easily.