Review by Melissa Powers, Common Sense Education | Updated March 2017

Personal Finance Lab

Authentic stock market simulation's foray into curriculum falls short

Subjects & skills
  • Math

  • Character & SEL
  • Critical Thinking
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Pros: Teachers can start a stock market game with just a few quick clicks.

Cons: Bare-bones curriculum needs more than just articles and quizzes.

Bottom Line: Uneven financial curriculum emphasizes stock trading while other skills lag behind.

Personal Finance Lab is best used as a stock market simulation. The stock market game is simple to set up and manage and feels very authentic. Teachers can run multiple simulations at a time, and students can join multiple games as well. Finance teachers may also use some of the articles, calculators, and quizzes as a supplement to their existing curriculum. These are available for free to users without a login. The stock market game is accessible for advanced middle school students, but the curriculum content is written on a high school or beginner collegiate level.

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Personal Finance Lab is a web-based stock market simulation platform for high school students. Teachers set parameters, and students join the simulation to learn about how stock trading works. Real-time equity research and video tutorials assist students in managing their portfolio. Teachers can also assign supplemental reading and multiple-choice quizzes. Personal Finance Lab also offers personal finance, economics, and business content, but the non-stock-related content is limited to articles written by the Personal Finance Lab staff and curated links to publicly available lesson plans.

Stock market simulations have been around for decades and are an engaging way to teach students about stock trading and portfolio management. Personal Finance Lab is trying to build on this platform to become a one-stop shop for high school finance teachers. Unfortunately, it still has a long way to go. With the exception of the stock market game tutorial videos, the rest of the site's content is completely text-based. All of the articles are written by Personal Finance Lab staff and college students. It would be great if they incorporated content from news outlets, industry publications, and peer-reviewed resources.

Stock trading is clearly the main focus, and other financial skills take a back seat. Even in the personal finance curriculum, there's an emphasis on the importance of maintaining a brokerage account. Use Personal Finance Lab as a stock market game and consider the extra content a bonus.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Stock portfolio competition can be fun, but text-heavy content and tedious research may discourage students.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

The stock market simulation is an authentic way to teach one type of money management, but where's the simulation for managing a household budget?

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

This text-heavy site is not designed for diverse learners. Support options are limited, especially for students.

Common Sense Reviewer
Melissa Powers Media specialist/librarian

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