Financial Literacy Learning Activities = Up to 80% Student Retention Rate

Interactive class activities for financial education course increases retention rate up to 80 percent among students in classes of learning and applying sound financial skills.

San Diego, CA. Financial education teachers, including the Institute of Consumer Financial Education (ICFE) Certified Instructors for The Money Instruction Book utilize meaningful classroom activities as much as possible. This is because of different learning styles and retention of lesson information among students when the classroom presentations consist of audio only, versus a video presentation, or versus a hands-on classroom activity.

When there are only audio presentations in a class, most studies conclude the student retention rate is only about 20 percent. When there is a visual presentation included, such as a PowerPointshow (PPs), the retention rate doubles to about 40 percent. When there is an activity for the student or class to participate in, the retention levels of the lessons rocket up to about 80 percent.

The award winning, nonprofit ICFE, based in San Diego, trains and urges all of their Certified Instructors who teach the semester long course, and ICFE certified Credit Report Reviewers, who often put on classes for consumers about getting and reading their own credit reports, to extensively utilize interactive class activities.

In addition to the ICFE s training manuals and classroom activity sheets which are included in the Instructor's Guide, the ICFE points them to (http://www.addsup.org) a unique web site from Cornell University's Cooperative Extension Service.

Adding It Up (www.addsup.org) is a highly interactive web site designed to engage young people and adults in the process of learning and applying sound basic financial practices. Developed by Cornell University and Cornell Cooperative Extension, Adding It Up promises to be a valuable (and fun!) tool for teachers and educators to use in making financial education come alive for their students. It can be used as a self-teaching tool as well.

The web-based Adding It Up curriculum explores a variety of money management topics, including: values and their impact on money decisions, practical skills for handling money, advertising and its impact on consumer spending, credit, insurance, consumer rights, and more. The site is divided into two sections: one for middle and high school-aged youth and the other for adults.

The youth version, which focuses on pre-financial independence issues, is organized around a travel theme. Visitors to the site travel through the fictional town of Moneyville. There are eight neighborhoods in Moneyville, each corresponding to one of the main financial topics, such as Money Sense (practical skills for handling money) or Credit.

Within each neighborhood, there are streets which correspond to the interactive tasks designed to teach money skills, such as Activities, Worksheets, Case Studies, Vocabulary and Quizzes.

As the site visitor enters Moneyville, he or she is introduced to several traveling companions. These individuals' lives and money personalities are woven throughout the site in the form of money tips and through case study examples. This strategy was used to make the site engaging, inviting and realistic to teens.

The adult side is organized in the same way, but with a more sophisticated look and tone. The topic headings are the same, but the content is in more depth and examples use adult spending categories and more complex financial decisions. The case studies are based on the same individuals who were introduced in the youth side, but they have aged and are dealing with financial issues encountered by young adults.

The site is written at a fourth or fifth grade reading level. The adult side has been crafted to support other financial education and workforce development programs being delivered through Cornell Cooperative Extension, but also to stand alone for visitors who happen to find the site independently, or for students who were introduced to the youth side, grow older and find themselves needing more advanced financial information.

Adding It Up is currently undergoing pilot-testing and evaluation by classroom teachers and community educators. The evaluation process focuses on teachers' perceptions of the site's usefulness and effectiveness in engaging students and enhancing learning. This testing and evaluation phase, and any resulting revisions to the site, will be complete by summer of 2004.

For more information on Adding It Up, contact Barbara Bristow (bjb4@cornell.edu or 607-254-5282) or Dave Norris (dn55@cornell.edu or 607-255-2654) at Cornell University. .

If you have a question for the ICFE Board of Educational Advisors, please visit www.icfe.info. @ www.icfe.info.