Facilitating Conversations about Personal Financial Literacy

Educator facilitates conversations about personal finance (and other Life 101) topics.
Made by Red & Black

About this Micro-credential

Key Method

Motivational Interviewing

Method Components

It is more effective to teach personal finance (and other Life 101) topics by emphasizing why they are important rather than merely discussing what to do and how to do it. As students engage in conversation, the educator moderates the session to keep them focused on personal finance topics. Students not only contribute to the conversation, but can also improve the process over time by developing thought-provoking questions. If the conversations take place in smaller groups, each group should appoint a spokesperson to share their key discussion points with the whole group.

Components of successful Motivational Interviewing:

  • Offer guidance, not advice.
  • Ask these open-ended questions one at a time, recognizing that the answer to each question in the sequence will become the foundation for the next one:
    • Why would you want to do this (or make this change)?
    • If you did decide to do this (or make this change), how might you go about it in order to succeed?
    • What might stop you from doing this (making this change)?
  • When trying to change negative behavior, it is sometimes necessary to ask:
    • How important would you say it is for you to do this (make this change) on a scale from 0 to 10, where 0 is not at all important and 10 is extremely important?
    • Why are you at (the number previously stated), rather than a lower number?

Combining Methods

Motivational Interviewing to facilitate conversations about personal finance (and other Life 101) topics can be implemented in pursuit of other micro-credentials, including:

  • Idea Generating
    Students brainstorm and generate ideas designed to expand their individual knowledge of personal finance (and other Life 101) topics and develop programs to share that knowledge with other students, as well as family and community.
  • Productive Teamwork
    Students collaborate to create and implement projects related to personal finance (and other Life 101) topics.
  • Eliciting Thinking with Open-Ended Content Questions
    Students respond to open-ended questions about personal finance (and other Life 101) topics posed by the educator.
  • Community Mapping
    Students determine if there is a need for personal finance education in their community and develop an approach for addressing and meeting the need.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

Studies of students completing high school conclude that young adults are poorly prepared to make informed financial decisions. Surprisingly, there is little correlation between high school students' financial knowledge and whether they have completed a financial education class. Studies indicate that students retain little of what they learn in personal finance and money management classes because they do not perceive that it is relevant to their lives. In addition, correlations have been observed between personal financial literacy and consumers' behavior, and a majority of the individuals cite personal experience as the most important source of their financial learning. This suggests that experience creates literacy, not the other way around. All of this supports the idea that a more effective approach to teaching personal finance (and other Life 101) topics is one that places greater emphasis on why it is important rather than merely discussing how and what.

Motivational Interviewing research

Miller, William R., and Theresa B. Moyers. 2006. "Eight Stages in Learning Motivational Interviewing."Journal of Teaching in the Addictions5(1), http://www.responsiblerecovery.org/courses/H83/EightStagesoflearningMIArticle%5B1%5D.doc.pdf

Lundahl, Brad, and Burke L. Brian. 2009. “The Effectiveness and Applicability of Motivational Interviewing: A Practice-Friendly Review of Four Meta-Analysis.” Journal of Clinical Psychology 65(11), http://www.antoniocasella.eu/archila/Lundahl_2009.pdf

Pettay, R. F. 2009. “Motivational Interviewing in Advising: Working with Students to Change.” Academic Advising Today, 32(2), http://bit.ly/1LEw1nh

Personal finance research

Mandell, Lewis, and Linda Schmid Klein. 2007. "Motivation and Financial Literacy." Financial Services Review16: 105–116, http://www.sco.ca.gov/Files-EO/2013_sco_flac_financial_literacy_motivation.pdf

Hilgert, Marianne A., Jeanne M. Hogarth, and Sondra G. Beverly. 2003. Household Financial Management: The Connection Between Knowledge and Behavior. Bulletin of the Federal Reserve Board, July, pp. 309–322. Federal Reserve Board's Publications Committee, http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/bulletin/2003/0703lead.pdf

Kerkmann, Barbara C. 1998. "Motivation And Stages Of Change In Financial Counseling: An Application Of A Transtheoretical Model From Counseling Psychology."Financial Counseling and Planning 9(1): 13–20, https://afcpe.org/assets/pdf/vol912.pdf

Educational strategies research

Weissberg, Roger P., and Jason Cascarino. 2013. "Academic Learning + Social-emotional Learning = National Priority."Phi Delta Kappan Magazine ?_Oct.: 8–13, http://bit.ly/2j2oriU

Van Der Stuyf, Rachel R. 2002. "Scaffolding as a Teaching Strategy."Adolescent Learning and Development 52(3): 5–18, http://bit.ly/1FtChg0

Rationale and Resources

One of the clinical psychologists credited with the development of Motivational Interviewing, Stephen Rollnick, states on his website (http://www.stephenrollnick.com/), “Motivational Interviewing is nothing more than, or less than, a helpful conversation about change.” He explains that Motivational Interviewing “was developed inductively, from clinical practice in very tough conversations about change, and provides a route to change that avoids confrontation, argument and time wasted on often fruitless efforts to instill motivation in others.”

To best explain how to use Motivational Interviewing to help teach personal finance (and other Life 101) topics, we offer this real-life story:

Red (Tina Pennington, a stay-at-home mom) and her sister, Black (Mandy Williams, a retired corporate executive), intended their book, What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired!, to be the basis of a sitcom, but a year after it was published, the book was approved by the Texas State Board of Education as a personal financial literacy textbook meeting 100% of the State’s mandates for that topic. It continued its unusual journey when the Chaplaincy Department of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) used the book as the basis of a personal finance and Life 101 book study program. TDCJ suggested that Red and Black meet with research experts from the George J. Beto Criminal Justice Center at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, to discuss how to capture statistics to document the success of the program. When they met with the research experts, Red and Black explained that they attributed the success of the program to the fact it is formatted as a book club, and that the feedback they had received indicated this very simple approach gets people talking—and therefore thinking—about personal finance and other Life 101 topics, which is the key to getting people to apply the lessons in their daily lives. During the meeting, while struggling with ways to “prove” the success of the program, Red got frustrated with the researchers, who were asking about quantitative results, questioning how to measure the value of someone driving you crazy asking “why” all the time. It was at that point that the experts explained that the questioning process Black used with Red, which is demonstrated throughout the book and then used in the various book study programs, is a proven, evidence-based technique called Motivational Interviewing. Black immediately turned to Red and said, “I am not your big sister, I am your motivational interviewer.” Needless to say, Red was not amused.

In their book, Black never told her sister what to do, but instead used a process they have since started referring to as “Q-I-D”—ask Questions - to get Information - in order to make smart, conscious Decisions. (Black acknowledges this is merely the Socratic method, but with updated “packaging.” However, that description was before she learned about Motivational Interviewing.) Applying this process to any topic—whether it is a financial topic (such as balance sheets, spending habits, credit cards, saving for college) or a more fundamental concept (such as values and priorities, long-term planning, time management, or even bullying)—can also provide opportunities to work on critical skills such as collective inquiry, reflection, and responsible decision making.

Red & Black resources

(For additional resources, please visit http://www.redandblackbooks.com/?id=861.)

What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired!, http://www.redandblackbooks.com/?id=248.

Intended as the basis of a sitcom (which explains why it was launched by Neiman Marcus), this book, authored by sisters Red and Black, has been approved by the Texas State Board of Education as a personal financial literacy textbook meeting 100% of the State’s mandates for that topic. Students who helped developed the initial financial literacy curriculum suggested it be used as a textbook, calling it a “reality show in a book.”

The Book Club Approach To Personal Finance & Life 101, http://www.redandblackbooks.com/?id=709

Originally written as the submittal to qualify the book and program for use as financial literacy materials in Texas, it was expanded to cover Life 101 topics. For the chapter-by-chapter outlines and philosophical questions that can be used to start discussions, see http://bit.ly/1LmnhSA.

Concluding Impressions Questionnaire, http://bit.ly/1JI8y6d

To determine whether the students found the material relevant, Red & Black had the KIPP Houston High School Class of 2011 complete feedback questionnaires.

Student Quotes, http://bit.ly/1BhohSv

Due to a generous underwriter, the students were allowed to keep their books.?_ These quotes, which indicate the value of the Red & Black book and program, are from the thank-you notes students wrote to the anonymous donor upon completion of the program.

Financial Quiz, http://bit.ly/1F1SQwd

As Black likes to ask, “Why are people embarrassed by what they do not know if they have never been taught it or even exposed to it?” Red & Black designed a financial quiz that can be used in an assortment of different ways, including as a “brain break” application.

Red & Black “Green Sheets”, http://www.redandblackbooks.com/?id=702

Red & Black borrowed Weight Watchers’ concept of tracking what you eat, thinking it would be an interesting homework assignment for students to track daily expenditures; the exercise also provides data for students to use in developing a realistic budget.?_ The worksheets were printed on green paper (hence the name), and many of the students continued to use them every week. (The Green Sheets are also very useful to track how you spend your time.)

Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

Following are the items you must submit to earn this micro-credential and the criteria by which they will be scored. To earn the micro-credential, you must receive a passing score for parts 1, 3, and 4 and a “yes” for part 2.

Part 1. Overview questions

(250-word limit for each response)

Activity Description: Please briefly describe the lesson you used to incorporate a discussion of personal finance. Note: If you used the book What I Learned About Life When My Husband Got Fired!, please reference the specific chapter(s) discussed. In your description, please address the following questions:

  • What personal finance (or Life 101) topic did you choose to discuss?
  • What question(s) did you use to initiate conversation?
  • Were your students able to relate to the topic and communicate why this topic was relevant to their lives?

Activity Evaluation:

  • How do you know your students increased their proficiency in personal finance by engaging in Motivational Interviewing?
  • What evidence did you collect that demonstrates these learning gains?

Part 2. Evidence/artifacts

Please submit work examples from at least two students, working individually and/or in groups, allowing them to decide how they want to demonstrate the importance and relevance of the selected topic to their own lives and others. Evidence/artifacts can include text, video, photos, or any other medium selected by the students to demonstrate competence.

Please note that the evidence/artifacts should reflect impact on the students. Although some students’ finished work products may not be as polished as others, those less polished artifacts may actually reflect a greater change in thinking or approach to personal finance (or other Life 101) topics.

Possible options include:

  • List of key discussion points from a group discussion
  • List of student-initiated research topics identified during group discussion
  • The process and results of a technology-enabled discussion (one school district did an “online book club”, one school summarized the key takeaways using Vokis, some have discussed using Twitter)
  • Public service announcements developed by students for classroom and school use
  • Peer-to-peer programs to expand the learning experience
  • Survey results from the program (the Resources section includes the Concluding Impressions questionnaire developed by Red & Black)

Part 3. Student reflections

For the students whose work examples were included above, submit student-created reflections on the Motivational Interviewing activities they experienced. Use the following questions as a guide (250-word limit for each reflection):

  • How did the personal finance activity change your view of the relevance of personal finance?
  • How did the Motivational Interviewing strategies help you improve your personal finance decisions?
  • How might the personal finance topic(s) you discussed impact your life?

Part 4. Teacher reflection

Provide a reflection on your experience facilitating conversations about personal finance. Use the following questions as a guide (250-word limit):

  • What was the impact of engaging your students in the Motivational Interviewing activity?
  • How might the personal finance topic(s) you discussed affect your life?
  • Will experiencing these project activities and the personal finance topic(s) affect your life?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


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