Academic Discipline and Personal Finance Instruction in High School

By Loibl, Cäzilia; Fisher, Patti J. | Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, January 1, 2013 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Academic Discipline and Personal Finance Instruction in High School

Loibl, Cäzilia, Fisher, Patti J., Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning

Despite public support for personal finance instruction in high school, its effectiveness has not been firmly established. The current study investigates instructional approaches as a reason for these inconsistent outcomes by comparing survey responses of business education, family and consumer sciences, and social studies/ economics teachers. The study framework suggests differences in the three disciplines' identities and individual teacher preferences. Findings confirm discipline-specific approaches to personal finance instruction with regard to content, information sources, time investment, and teacher and student characteristics. In addition, a link emerged between college-based teacher preparation and teachers' ability to respond to the challenges of personal finance instruction.

Key Words: academic disciplines, high school, personal finance instruction, teacher perceptions


Public opinion has embraced the idea that personal finance instruction in high school is key to alleviating consumer indebtedness, financial delinquency, and bankruptcy (Bernanke, 2011; Bernard, 2010). Surveys and knowledge tests of high school students have found that financial knowledge is lacking, identified how this lack of knowledge may interfere with financial decision making, and offered suggestions about how policymakers may implement high school financial education to overcome this lack of knowledge through personal finance instruction (Mandell, 2008b; National Endowment for Financial Education, 2005). As a result, 36 states have mandated financial literacy education in secondary schools (Council for Economic Education, 2012).

The academic literature, however, is inconclusive regarding the effects of high school financial education on financial decisions and behaviors. A groundbreaking study by Bernheim, Garrett, and Maki (2001) reported positive effects on savings behavior and asset building among young adults receiving financial literacy education in high school. Other studies found no (Cole & Shastry, 2010; Mandell, 2005; Tennyson & Nguyen, 2001) or negative relationships between high school financial education and financial behaviors (Peng, 2008; Peng, Bartholomae, Fox, & Cravener, 2007).

A reason for these diverging findings may be found in the tension between the goal of the public mandate and its actual implementation in secondary school teaching. In many cases, the mandate to teach personal finance in high school is unfunded, vague with respect to academic department, classroom time, and materials, and not part of the core curriculum. The gap between the goal of the mandate and its implementation may undermine the anticipated outcome. In the current research, we respond to this concern with a survey of high school teachers and their perceptions of personal finance instruction. Analyzing teachers' decisions adds the high school perspective to the current discussion about best practices in financial education (Lyons & Neelakantan, 2008; McCormick, 2009; Servon & Kaestner, 2008), service providers' background (Bone, 2008; Grinstead, Mauldin, Sabia, Koonce, & Palmer, 2011), and content selection (Beutler, Beutler, & McCoy, 2008; Spader, Ratcliffe, Montoya, & Skillern, 2009).

The current study investigated high school teachers in Ohio from the three academic areas most likely to offer personal finance education. The discussions surrounding the imminent implementation of a statewide personal finance education mandate in 2010 provided for good timing to address three research questions:

(1) Which teaching preferences define personal finance instruction in the three academic disciplines? By identifying preferences for personal finance instruction for the academic disciplines, we documented the unique approaches of teaching this topic across different disciplines.

(2) How does mandatory personal finance instruction compare to elective personal finance instruction?

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Academic Discipline and Personal Finance Instruction in High School


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?