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Winter 2012 687 Mobile Technologies Javier Casaseca

Assignment #5
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CONSUMER EDUCATION: THE LABEL


1. Introduction
One of our concerns as teachers is to help students to do critical thinking. In this era, where the
amount of information available is enormous, it is very necessary for educators to give the students the
skills to think by themselves and analyze critically the information they are exposed to.

As part of my Introduction to Economics class syllabus in High School, I teach my students about
consumer education. They are avid consumers on their own but many times they are not fully aware of
their decisions, so it is a great field to work with them. As consumers, they need to learn how to
distinguish needs from wants.

2. Goals
Generally speaking, consumer education has been described as addressing four general areas. These
are:
Consumer Decision making. Covers critical thinking skills related to consumers' goals, needs,
wants, and the effects of attitudes, advertising, information and opportunity costs on consumer
behavior.
Economics. Examines the allocation of scarce resources among competing wants. Explores the
principles of supply and demand and how prices are determined. Other topics include growth
and productivity, global interdependence and the interrelated roles of consumers, producers, and
government in an economic system.
Personal Finance. Includes budgeting, record keeping, income and net worth statements, credit,
saving and investing, retirement and estate planning, insurance, and taxes.
Rights and Responsibilities. Includes responsible citizenship concerning consumer protection
laws and regulations, and redress mechanisms. Also addresses topics such as the environment,
safety, health care and affordable goods and services.

This set of activities is designed to work on the first area, Consumer Decision making. Specifically,
we intend to build up consumer awareness by analyzing the information of items that can be found in
supermarkets that producers give in their packages and labels. By the end of this set of activities the
students will achieve a higher awareness of their choices as consumers, based on the information
available (or omitted) in products packages and labels.

2. Objectives
We pursue the following objectives:
a) Identify the basic pieces of information that packaging and labeling should have by law.
b) Compare the information available in the selected item with the law requirements.
c) Analyze the quality of information in the selected item. Evaluate if it is easy or not to read,
understand and compare.
d) Distinguish between the information required by law and the information the producer offers to
make the item more attractive, paying special attention to letter fonts, size, shapes and color.
e) Discern between the information obtained by advertising than the information obtained by
consumer research.
f) Point out the strengths and weaknesses of the selected item regarding the information and
evaluate it according to a rubric.


3. Materials
In order to fulfill this set of activities, we will make use of the Moodle class website and mobile
technology devices. We have prepared this set of activities to be used with an IPad although any other
tablet or smart phone will also be useful. To work with the data, they can either use the same devices with
suitable apps or use desktop computers with appropriate software. The devices must be able to take
pictures, record audio and video and edit them to create educational materials. If using an iPad, the
following apps are highly recommended: Safari, YouTube, iMovie, Keynote or Garage Band.

Besides, we will make extensive use of the Internet. Among the information we will manage here are
some useful links:
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USDA Mandatory Label Features
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/regulations/mandatory_label_features/index.asp

Virtual Chat with representative of USDA to solve doubts regarding labeling and food safety
http://askkaren.custhelp.com/cgi-bin/askkaren.cfg/php/enduser/chat.php

FDA Country of Origen
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vQrfzkXBKs

Tips to read the nutritional label
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTaVCJmPxzM

The Economics of Labeling
http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/aer793/aer793d.pdf


4. Procedures
To achieve the goals and objectives above described, we will attend the following steps that will take
us 4 class sessions:

a) The steps: the teacher will tell the students the steps and contents of this project and will make
them available through the Moodle class page. (15 min.)
b) Introduction: the teacher will present some of the economic facts of labeling and its implications
for industry and consumers. Here, he will point out the importance for consumers of being aware
of regulations, specifically those of packaging and labeling. (25 min.)
c) Making groups: the class will be divided in groups of 5 people, and each of them will be
assigned an item to study. (10 min. - 1
st
. class session)
d) Study the items: each group will bring to class their two items and will fill out one table of
content for each one (see Appendix I.)
This step must be documented by audio, pictures and video. Three students will be in charge of
recording the process using the devices: one taking the pictures, one recording video and one
taking the notes. The one taking notes will act as coordinator. Two students will be in charge of
finding the information. (50 min. 2
nd
class session)
e) Evaluation: each group will assign points to evaluate their item according to a rubric given by
the teacher (see Appendix II). Students are welcome to add or modify the rubric to suit better the
evaluation of their item. Each feature of the rubric must be voted individually from 1 to 4 points
by each group member, and then an average of value will be noted down in the rubric under
Average Feature Score. Finally, the group will calculate a Total Score and an Average
Score per feature; following the instructions in the rubric (see Appendix II.)
This step must be documented by audio, pictures and video. Positions must rotate (i.e., the
student who took pictures on step d), does not take them now again.) Two students will be in
charge of recording the process using the devices: one taking the pictures and one recording
video. Two students will be in charge editing the material. The last student will coordinate their
classmates and will be in charge of filling out the facts the information and taking the notes for
next evaluation step. (50 min. 3
rd
class session)
f) Conclusions: each group will make a slideshow with Keynote, will make a 2-5 min. video of the
process, and will record a podcast to make a presentation to the class with their findings and
conclusions of the assigned item. Every group will upload these files to the Moodle page to
make them available for the class. (50 min. 4
th
class session)
g) Each group will name a spokesperson and all them together will build up The wiki label
information. After that, the class can make the corrections and edit the wiki. (Assignment)

Those groups that will not do in time their daily work, will have to finish it as homework.

5. Evaluation
The grading of this set of activities will be done by the teacher, although there will be room for
students participation in grading. Each group will grade each other group presentation. The teacher will
calculate the average grade given to each group and will weight it with a 25% of the final grade and the
Winter 2012 687 Mobile Technologies Javier Casaseca
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other 65% of the grade will be assigned by the teacher. An extra 10% of the grade will be achieved by the
work on the wiki.

Winter 2012 687 Mobile Technologies Javier Casaseca
Assignment #5
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APPENDIX I


Item Description:



Students participating:






Who is the producer/importer?


Where it has been produced?
When it has been produced?


When is the expiry date (if applicable)
What are the ingredients (if applicable)


What are the nutritional information (if applicable)
What is the serving size (if applicable) How many serving sizes the package has (if
applicable)


Does it have instructions to open the package


Does it have instructions to use the item
Does it have instructions to storage the item Can you find a way to contact the producer (a
telephone number, email address, etc.)



Is there any disclaimer or warning (allergies,
hazardous materials, etc.)
Are the font sizes enough to read the information
easily





Any of the above information is missing or
misplaced (i.e., you can read Best before end
but it is hard to find the expiry date or it is
missing)
If the item is advertised in the media, Does the ad
match the info in the label








Winter 2012 687 Mobile Technologies Javier Casaseca
Assignment #5
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APPENDIX II



Item Description:

Students
Average
Feature
Score
Student
name
Student
name
Student
name
Student
name
Student
name

Features
1 Producer/Importer
2 Place of production
3 Date of production
4 Expiry date
5 Ingredients
6 Nutritional info
7 Serving size
8 Servings per
container

9 Opening info
10 Using info
11 Storage info
12 Contact info
13 Disclaimers/Warnings
14 Appropriate fonts
15
16
17
18
19
20

TOTAL SCORE (Sum: all right column)


AVERAGE SCORE (Divide: Total Score / Number of features scored)



Scores:
1 - Awful (the info does not appear)
2 - Defective (the info contains errors or is quite incomplete)
3 - Average (strictly offers the info required by law)
4 - Excellent (provides info beyond the law requirements)