Math skills are a fundamental necessity for everyone, we encounter math problems everyday but it is hard to recognize them because they’re not presented as numbers and graphs as we’re taught in schools. From something as simple as setting an alarm to complex things like filing taxes, we’re surrounded by mathematical problems. The interest in math among young learners would be much higher if we make them understand the use of math in a situation they currently face.
Financial skills are based on simple math and are relevant as well as necessary for college students. There is a rapid increase in average student debt, according to National center for education statistics data the average student debt in 2014 was 33,000$ as compared to 29,000$ in 2012 and 26,000$ in 2010. With this trend of increasing student debt it is important to address the issue of money management. Hence there is a need to instil financial skills in the young college population as they move towards being young earners.
Young adults between ages: 17-25.
- To emphasize the importance and change perception of math among students by addressing an issue close to the target audience and showing how math can be used to solve that issue.
- To build financial skills in students which will help them make better financial decisions.
Math & Financial skills.
Learning theories & pedagogies
- Experiential learning: According to the theory, significant learning takes place when the subject matter is relevant to the personal interests of the student. Here as financial issue are so common among college students it will generate a self-motivated interest among the users due to the relevance of the topic.
- Problem based learning (PBL): According to PBL learning is driven by challenging open-ended questions with no one right answer. It also states that problems posed should be contextual. Inspired by this the simulation functions in a problem-solving paradigm hence posing problems to the user in a contextual framework. The environment is built in such a way that students could easily relate to it and hence feel a sense of belonging in the environment.
Location: college lounges/waiting areas/libraries all across USA. The placement of the interactive kiosk will be in the center of the space surrounded by cut-outs of characters of the simulation and an information chart with easy instructions and an introductory narrative for the simulation.
Technologies and interaction– Touch screen monitor surrounded by TV screens along with a camera and a mic to get audio-visual input from the user. The users can make their own avatar by choosing to take a picture. The users experience their avatar on the screen and face situations which they see on the screen, the users interact with the system by speaking to characters in the simulation. (audio based)
Experience design- The user first chooses an avatar of his choice by selecting from various options. There is also an option to take a photo and add it to their own avatar. Then the user’s avatar is placed in this virtual world and then the simulation creates a story using a series of events in which the user encounters casual and life-like situation which are especially contextual to college students(Example going to a cafeteria, meeting friends in a bar, events happening in a dorm, etc.) These situations places the user into positions where they have to make financial decisions. These situations would not have clear cut choices like spending money on luxury good vs saving in a bank but with real life solutions which students can actually take, like having dinner parties at home rather than in bars/restaurants or borrowing books from library rather than buying them etc. The user is guided through the simulation with the mechanics of fun and budget, the user has to try and balance the two until the end (have as much fun as possible in the given budget).The users who overspend in the beginning might be high on fun levels but might face difficult situations and run out of money during the simulation and hence significantly reduce their fun factor. The user is also provided with tips and info based on their decisions, also the decisions made by the user affect the future events not only through scores but also with the branching of the story. So a player who chooses to go to nightclub might face a situation where she gets late for class and has has to choose between taking a cab or riding a bike.