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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


Fun with Taxes

 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

3.5 stars
Content Quality: 3.6 stars
Effectiveness: 3.3 stars
Ease of Use: 3.6 stars
Reviewed: Nov 11, 2005 by Business Editorial Board
Overview: This website provides a resource for tax related items and topics. There are
links not only to Federal and State sites, but to a wide variety of sites
including CPA firms, publications, and articles. There is also an interactive
?Toolbox? to estimate refunds/withholding/contributions and an opportunity to
try Turbo Tax. Lastly, there are also items for sale by the creator of the
site.


Learning Goals: The purpose of this site is to assemble links to State and Federal information,
current tax legislation, and tax articles. It is also a self-serving site for
sales of the site creator?s products and services.
Target Student Population: This would be beneficial for Introductory Tax students. Advanced tax topics are
not really accessible on the internal search engine. Other user groups would
include any individual searching for tax information. This site links to sites
used by the entire population of taxpayers.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: Prerequisite skills vary, depending on the intent of the instructor/user.
Obviously the site contains a great deal of tax terminology and assumes
familiarity with general tax matters. The ability to maneuver within and
between web sites is also necessary.
Type of Material: This is a collection of reference materials.
Recommended Uses: This could be used as an aid in limited student research projects. It provides
a short-cut to sites with forms and information. It could be used initially to
help students learn how to access information. It could also be used as a tool
to find and compare tax sites and sources of information. It could also be used
as part of a lecture by the instructor.

Technical Requirements: A browser is required.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 3.6 stars
Strengths: A common site for Federal and State tax information and forms is extremely
convenient. Presenting the combination of the Federal site, all State sites,
articles, and recent news/legislation is a good model for teaching tax. This
would be a useful site for Intro Tax students to operate from initially.


Concerns: The primary concern is the dated materials and information. The ?Tax
Preparation Toolbox? uses dated tax information. The tax forms listed for some
of the states (ex: Mn) are for many years ago. The currency of the article base
is not clear.

Trying Turbo Tax presented problems. Personal information was required in order
to sample Turbo Tax. The IRS and State links go to redundant sites.

The Federal Tax News Resource link leads to many sites with no page to be found.


The website name is a bit of a misnomer. Its purpose is not meant to
be fun, but informative.

With all of the links a user may miss one or more excellent tax sites, e.g., the
IRS site.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 3.3 stars
Strengths: The organization of topics is good. The variety of approaches to providing tax
information is also good. The point that current articles and news/legislative
updates are as important as underlying tax rules and regulations is
demonstrated.

The site could easily be integrated into specific units within a course. The
concept behind this site appears to be a desire to increase one?s efficiency in
obtaining tax information.
Concerns: Given the dated information, the instructor must be very careful about what is
and isn?t used by students. They could easily learn incorrect material. The
dead links and old tax information are frustrating.

Because the site was not developed for classroom instructional purposes neither
learning objectives nor prerequisite knowledge have been identified. Similarly,
concepts are necessarily reinforced or built upon as one would do during
instruction.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 3.6 stars
Strengths: Certain parts of the module, the links to various sites (Federal and State
homepages), prevent users from wallowing around aimlessly. The page is
relatively easy to use.

The instructions are very good.
Concerns: From a design standpoint, the site is a jumble of other sites to visit.
There was an attempt at being visually appealing, but the web page at first
viewing felt unorganized. It is not engaging or interactive.

The Toolbox is meant to be interactive and engaging, but the information
provided is incorrect.

Turbo Tax is meant to be interactive, but the instructions are not clear and
once there the user cannot go back to the home site. The need to provide
personal information is uncomfortable.

The links need to be reorganized or designed. There is no need for the Federal
and State sections to each have 3 links to duplicate sites.

Other Issues and Comments: The site is a great idea. The varied collection of forms, sites, articles, 'try
this?, and so forth is wonderful. The dated information that may erroneously
be used and remembered by students could be harmful to their learning. Only
half of the site is reliable and useful. Old tax information is not useful as a
learning tool, except for comparison purposes. Students? impressions are
important. If students are warned not to use certain sections because they are
incorrect and they encounter too many dead ends, they will be turned off to the
site.