Participatory Learning Activities

Engaging students in an active learning environment is vital for long-term personal financial success. Various participatory learning activities (PLAs) can be adapted to the classroom and other learning settings.  To better connect student to a meaningful learning experience, consider these PLAs:

  • Brainstorming – Ask students to generate a list of possible actions for a specific personal finance decision. Encourage many ideas. List all the ideas without discussion. Many times unlikely or silly responses can result in an innovative idea.
  • Community surveys – Have students create survey questions related to various personal finance topics and decisions.  Collect the questions and have a few students edit the submissions to create a brief survey instrument. Next, have each student in the class administer the survey to 5 or 10 people.  Summarize and discuss the data that is collected.
  • Describing visual images – Select some photographs related to personal financial situations.  Working in small groups, have the students describe what they believe is happening in the picture.  Then, list questions you would ask others about the picture.  Finally, recommend actions that might be taken to address the financial situations in the pictures.
  • Interview – Have students interview financial experts or acquaintances to obtain insights into various personal finance topics. Students should prepare open-ended questions in advance, and be prepared to use follow-up questions to better engage the person being interviewed. Encourage students to practice with other student before doing their actual interviews.
  • Skits or plays – Working in small groups, have students select a financial situation or decision.  Create a story that communicates the situation to the audience.  Next, present a short skit or role-play on the subject.  Ask the audience to comment on possible actions that might be taken for the situation presented. This skit might also be presented as a mime, without words. Have the audience guess what they believe is happening in the skit that is presented.
  • Systematic walk – Have students walk in a business area to determine the types of financial services, stores, and other organizations that might enhance their knowledge. If appropriate, encourage students to talk with employees and customers to gain further insights.
  • Time line – Have students prepare a time line of major financial events in their lives.  In addition to past events, have student forecast various future events.

For additional information on participatory learning activities, click here.

Additional participatory learning activities

Project based learning for the Personal Finance Classroom

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students to suggest ideas to enhance their involvement in the learning process.
  • Conduct online research to obtain additional information on participatory learning activities.

Discussion Questions 

  1. What are potential benefits of participatory learning?
  2. What concerns might be associated with participatory learning?
  3. What participatory learning activities have you used?