Dollars & Decisions is a free “Choose Your Own Adventure”–style interactive course designed to introduce basic financial literacy to students in grades 8-12. The idea behind the course is to educate students about basic personal finance in critical areas (bank accounts, saving for immediate needs and for the future, and how to manage credit) to give them the knowledge and confidence to manage their money.
Set up to reflect a young adult’s life, players share an apartment with roommates, choose a job, and have to budget for rent, utilities, and more based on their salaries. Players face multiple real-world scenarios about handling money that impacts their budget. The course starts with a quiz to see how much students already know about personal finance. At the start of the course, each player is given $1,000 to start their virtual lives in a big city. Next, they receive salaries. Each player is given a budget showing the amount of money they have at any given time. This amount goes up & down depending on their choices. The course is designed to teach students basic money skills as the decisions they make impact their financial outcomes in the course. The course’s internal characters, including roommates, bank representatives, and bosses, act as financial guides, sharing their experiences with money and offering suggestions. Dollars & Decisions provides players with expert money tips, digital worksheets, and online calculators. Players receive a brief assessment of their performance once the modules have been completed and take a post-assessment quiz.
A teachers' guide also includes the national standards, learning objectives, and key vocabulary to show educators how to get the most out of this awesome course.
From our introductory research on what educators really want to teach financial literacy, we found that worksheets and presentations are overdone and often lose student attention. By creating an interactive game, we're helping students understand financial concepts in a fun, hands-on, and memorable way. These are skills students will use for life. We needed to develop a resource they'll truly enjoy working through while presenting concepts in a way they'll remember.
By consulting teaching and financial literacy experts, we developed short learning modules in the course covering fundamentals like taxes, banking, and credit cards. With the help of Backpack Games and surveys of our target audience, we selected an illustration, animation, and voiceover style to appeal our audience of students in grades 8-12.
Through a robust promotion strategy, we're reaching educators through social, email, display advertising, and more to build awareness of this awesome and free classroom resource. The more educators we reach, the more students we can impact.
Since launch at the start of 2023, we've seen over 5,000 game plays with promotion continuing to drive users to the game.
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