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MERLOT II


    

Peer Review


SPENT

by McKinney
 

Ratings

Overall Rating:

4.75 stars
Content Quality: 4.75 stars
Effectiveness: 4.75 stars
Ease of Use: 4.75 stars
Reviewed: Jun 29, 2012 by Sociology Editorial Board
Overview: This interactive website heightens awareness about the plight of the poor in meeting basic living needs. It is a simple interactive page requiring users to make hard choices, given strict financial limitations. The program then calculates the assets the household would have if it were to secure meager income and if it had equally meager living expenses. It also takes into consideration unanticipated expenses that commonly arise to make financial planning especially problematical. By enhancing understanding of the severe challenges that poverty imposes on a daily basis, users should ultimately realize why this population often cannot avail itself of opportunities which might otherwise improve living standards.
Learning Goals: Learners should recognize the limited options that economically marginal people must continually negotiate. They should also recognize that planning and saving for this population are virtually impossible. Learners are also encouraged to share their own experiences, and are asked to donate to a program addressing poverty at the local level.
Target Student Population: The website is appropriate for high school and college students in social science and social work courses.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills: The website could be used in conjunction with modules on either personal finance, social service access, or community and neighborhood assessments.
Type of Material: Simulation.
Recommended Uses: Useful in classes where instructors encourage students to examine the hardships of poverty. It would need to be supplemented by instructor-led class discussion or assigned reading to provide an interpretive context.
Technical Requirements: Updated web browser, Java.

Evaluation and Observation

Content Quality

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: The emphasis on poverty within the context of difficult choices is both informative and emotionally compelling. The interactive transforms a complex problem into comprehensible terms.
Concerns: There does not appear to be user instructions, and therefore those unfamiliar with interactive modules may have navigation difficulties.

Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: Learners may not only acquire knowledge about the harsh realities of being poor, but also be stimulated to think about the hard choices they would have to make if living in similar circumstances.
Concerns: This module was not likely designed for student instruction as it does not offer learning assignments. Resource links are not easily found on webpages, nor are they directly connected with the interactive module.

Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty

Rating: 4.75 stars
Strengths: User-friendly, engaging, interactive, easily understood, and provocative. It could be used in class or in context of homework assignment.
Concerns: None.

Other Issues and Comments: This is a great supplemental tool for vividly demonstrating the challenges of being poor. However, it is somewhat narrow, and therefore should be used in conjunction with other descriptive materials about poverty.