Evolution of a Case Study or Why We Love Feedback!

Mar 17, 2016
Budgeting, Savings, Case Study, Featured NGPF Lesson


At NGPF, we’re always signing off newsletters, product launches, and emails with some rendition of “Let us know how it goes in your classroom! We love feedback!” Here’s a little story highlighting why we crave feedback so much:

  1. Tim & I are teaching a two-month, 24-hour personal finance course at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto (where NGPF was born!), which is one of our limited times to try our materials LIVE, in person, with real students, as we play the role of teacher.
  2. On Monday I did our case study, “How Do I Budget?” and the strongest direct feedback I got from students was, “Apps? Why’s this girl buying apps? Who buys apps? $3 apps? What — Is she too good to see ads? Apps!!!” OK, lesson learned. Teens don’t buy apps.
  3. Tim or I teach one section of the class, while their amazing teacher, Anna Takahashi, teaches the other two sections. After all three sections completed the case study in class, Anna and I were able to collaborate to brainstorm ways to make the case better (other than removing the glaring error of app purchases…), and here’s what we came up with:
    1. It was too easy for students to scratch stuff left and right from Alana’s budget — $300 at the mall? Just cut that to $100. She should eat all her meals at home — no more snacks! They weren’t necessarily acknowledging that changing your habits 180 degrees isn’t that simple and the effects of peer pressure are real.
    2. All of the purchases she made for the month, with the exception of gas, were pretty expendable. Almost everyone agreed they were all “wants,” not “needs.”
    3. The final question not only asked students to tackle solutions to Alana’s budget woes, but also to explain her confusion between gross and net pay; in retrospect, these clearly should have been two separate issues.
  4. I shared my and Anna’s feedback with Tim, and we agreed to update the case study sometime in the future. Our To-Do list is about 450 items long…
  5. In the meantime, outstanding teacher Brandon Jacobson of Copper Hills High School (UT) emailed me for the teacher guides to the case studies, indicating he was going to use one this week. He followed up with an email saying, “This case study was so awesome!!!!!! It lead to some awesome discussions about the imperfect situations that befall us each day. Thanks for the resources. I will be using the “How Do I Budget” case study for Friday.” Turns out he was referring to the “Save Me” case study, and sent along some additional feedback about the AMAZING work his students did with the material.
  6. Of course, now knowing that Brandon was a case study fan, and he planned to use “How Do I Budget?” tomorrow, I emailed him, saying some version of, “Brandon! Did you make your photocopies for class, yet? Because, we’ve got some improvements in mind for the case study you’re about to use, and we want you to get the best case study possible.”
  7. Turns out Brandon’s emailing his student the link before class tomorrow morning, so Tim and I expedited the case study improvements, updated the teacher guide, updated the website, and emailed Brandon a new and improved version of the case study for him to use tomorrow.

MORAL of the STORY: Send NGPF feedback when you use our resources in class, because:

  • We don’t get to see our stuff live nearly enough, so we rely on you.
  • Anna T took the time to brainstorm with me, and her VERY good suggestions became reality for ALL of you to benefit from.
  • Brandon J took the time to send me feedback on one case study, and he got expedited improvements on another in less than a day. 

If you followed along for all of that, here are a bunch of the resources I just mentioned:

  • Newly improved “How Do I Budget?” case study*
  • Save Me!” case study that Brandon’s students rocked earlier this week*
  • Podcast with Anna Takahashi, Director of College Counseling at Eastside College Preparatory School – unrelated to case studies, but Anna’s outstanding at what she does, which is help dozens of first generation college students attend 4-year colleges every year
  • My summary of how the initial version of the “How Do I Budget?” case study went on Monday
  • All of the Case Studies on our website

Thanks, Brandon! Thanks, Anna! You guys make NGPF awesome!

And, NGPF users, email me if you’ve ever got feedback to share

About the Author

Jessica Endlich

When I started working at Next Gen Personal Finance, it's as though my undergraduate degree in finance, followed by ten years as an educator in an NYC public high school, suddenly all made sense.