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ETAP 623 (Fall 2018) Course Page

Topic and Purpose

Including Personal Finance When Teaching Exponential Functions

The topic of this course is on the value of integrating personal finance in the high school mathematics classroom. The purpose of this course is to teach mathematics educators about the effectiveness of having their students learn personal finance concepts in conjunction with exponential function lessons.

Topics that will be covered:

  • What is personal finance?
  • To what degree should high school graduates understand how to manage their personal finances?
  • How do educators find a balance between computation and conceptual understanding?
  • How do educators design instruction to authentically include real-world applications?

Learning Outcomes

The intent of this course is to enlighten educators on how to integrate personal finance effectively in the classroom.

Participants will be able to:

  • List the situations in life that are classified as matters of personal finance. (Verbal Information)
  • Evaluate whether or not learners graduate high school with sufficient understanding of the financial situations they will encounter. (Cognitive Strategy)
  • Identify ways of using and applying interest rates and compound interest during instruction on exponential functions. (Verbal Information and Intellectual Skill)
  • Analyze the costs and benefits on the learner to using online calculators. (Cognitive Strategy)
  • Choose to create a community-centered learning environment around personal finance topics in the classroom. (Attitude)

Needs Assessment

Instructional Problem:
Although we all use money throughout our daily lives, many people operate without a financial plan or a full understanding of their financial health, now or in the future. Lusardi and Mitchell (2011, Oct) used three questions to measure financial knowledge internationally across eight countries and found that “financial literacy is very low around the world, irrespective of the level of financial market development and the type of [retirement] pension provided” (Lusardi & Mitchell, 2011 Oct, p. 9). In order for our population to make sound financial choices, and thus sustain ourselves over a lifetime, we need to promote the study of mathematics throughout high school. The results of a paper presented by Cole, Paulson, and Shastry (2013) “are particularly important given the tight link between math skills and many measures of financial literacy” (p. 6).

Of Lusardi and Mitchell’s (2011) three questions to determine financial literacy, “two are quite mathematical: What is the future value of $100 saved over 5 years at a 2% interest rate; and how does the real value of savings change in an environment with 1% interest and 2% inflation. This suggests that in many settings it may be difficult to separate the two [math skills and measures of financial literacy]” (p. 6-7). In order to assist students in avoiding costly financial mistakes, states and school districts can “improve financial decision-making by changing high school graduation requirements” (Cole, Paulson, & Shastry, 2013, p. 31). Contrary to previous literature, Cole, Paulson, and Shastry (2013) found that personal finance courses did not improve savings behavior or have a measurable effect on credit management outcomes and, therefore, states should reconsider their mandates and investment in this type of course.

Math educators hold an influential position in their students’ financial futures and can choose to prioritize financial literacy in their classrooms. Research shows “that individuals who were exposed to greater math requirements in high school are more likely to accumulate assets, have more real estate equity, are less likely to be delinquent on their loans, and are less likely to declare bankruptcy and undergo foreclosure” (Cole, Paulson, & Shastry, 2013, p. 32). Although classroom teachers cannot change state graduation mandates, they can integrate financial topics into existing math courses and mentor all their students, regardless of math tracking practices, to take a math course each year of high school.


What is to be Learned:
Mathematics educators will learn how to integrate personal finance by growing their own understanding of the topic. Participants will learn to examine exponential modeling with percent growth and decay and compound interest through the lens of wealth management. Participants will be inspired to authentically include finance professionals from their community in their courses.


The Learners:
Learners will include secondary mathematics educators teaching in Grade 9-12 environments. Learners will all have experience using money on a daily basis and year-over-year and familiarity with calculating exponential growth and decay and compound interest in the context of word problems. Additionally, learners will have some experience teaching financial vocabulary included in such word problems but may not have a deep understanding of their application to wealth management. Instruction and activities will be geared toward the classroom teacher although information could also be shared with secondary students, when developmentally appropriate.


Learner Analysis

Learners within this course include secondary mathematics educators, most likely for grades 9-12. Participants will have varying degrees of familiarity with conceptualizing and calculating measures of financial literacy, in addition to varying interest in personal finance.


Context for Instruction:
Participants in this mini-course will learn content online, in any location with a device and a stable Internet connection.


Exploring the Instructional Problem and Solution:
Participants will explore sections of the course that will elevate their personal finance knowledge as well as methods for expanding financial topics within Algebra 2 units. Participants will engage in activities that allow them to develop their own ideas for prioritizing personal finance whenever applicable, providing them with the opportunity to tailor classroom resources to their individual teaching environments.


Goals of this Mini-Course:
One goal of this course is to create an awareness within the mind of mathematics educators regarding the importance of personal finance topics and the level of connectedness these topics have to existing curriculum. A second goal of this course is to provide lesson plan ideas that will improve the real-world application of content in a unit on exponential functions. Lastly, a third goal of this course is to help educators provide a memorable learning experience for students that will help them to make healthy financial decisions after high school.

Performance Objectives

  • When given two questions used to determine financial literacy in an international study of adults, the learner will solve each problem with 100% accuracy using a four-function calculator, paper, and pencil.
  • After having the opportunity to solve the two questions used to determine financial literacy, the learner will breakdown no less than five math skills he/she used in a graphic organizer.
  • Given two word problems from a popular Common Core Algebra 2 curriculum, the learner will list no less than ten financial concepts or definitions one must know in order to solve the two problems.
  • Provided with the current NYS Regents Diploma requirements, the learner will predict categories of students who are at risk of graduating high school without sufficient understanding of wealth management in 150 to 200 words.
  • Given a sample lesson plan, the learner will design a lesson plan built on an overarching scenario problem that spans at least two class periods, utilizes 1 media source and includes at least 1 online interest calculator for use in his/her current classroom setting.
  • Given the question, ‘What community member will you invite into your classroom to improve students’ financial decision-making capacity?’, the learner will write an email to secure a community connection.

Task Analysis

Unit 1: What is personal finance?

  1. The learner will define personal finance using prior knowledge. (prerequisite)
  2. The learner will watch a video about general personal finance.
  3. The learner will list the situations in life that are classified as matters of personal finance.
  4. The learner will rewrite their definition of personal finance.
  5. The learner will solve two questions used to determine financial literacy in an international study of adults. (prerequisite)
  6. The learner will employ metacognitive strategies to determine their own level of financial literacy. (prerequisite)
  7. The learning will analyze how their own level of financial literacy may influence how much personal finance content they include in their curriculum and how thoroughly they integrate any real-world application.


Unit 2: To what degree should high school graduates understand how to manage their personal finances?

  1. The learner will breakdown no less than five math skills they used when solving the financial literacy problems in a graphic organizer.
  2. The learner will look at two word problems from a lesson on compound interest in a popular Common Core Algebra 2 curriculum, eMathInstruction. (prerequisite)
  3. The learner will outline no less than ten financial concepts or definitions a student must know in order to solve the two problems in a graphic organizer.
  4. The learner will read NYS Regents Diploma requirements and read a summary of the international financial literacy study.
  5. The learner will identify the math skills from all problems used in this mini-course that are introduced to students for the first time in an Algebra 2 course or equivalent.
  6. The learner will write a paragraph identifying the categories of students who are at risk of graduating high school without sufficient math skills to understand wealth management.


Unit 3: How do educators find a balance between computation and conceptual understanding?

  1. The learner will read a brief introduction about the integration of personal finance concepts into eMathInstruction units.
  2. The learner will watch two videos used in the lesson plan.
  3. The learner will review a lesson plan that teaches compound interest through the lens of student loans.
  4. The learner will choose an online interest calculator to use with students.
  5. The learner will design a lesson plan to use in his/her class that allows students to explore personal finance topics of student loans, car loans, and/or credit card payments. Learners will write this lesson to include a media piece and at least one online calculator.
  6. The learner will compare the costs and benefits of using an online calculator with students against using a graphing calculator with students.


Unit 4: How do mathematics educators design instruction to authentically include real-world applications?

  1. The learner will read about the impact on student learning in a community-centered learning environment.
  2. The learner will read about financial professionals available for outreach opportunities in their classrooms and ethical considerations around financial advisors.
  3. The learner will take a quiz to examine the potential ethical concerns and possible bias when inviting in various types of financial professionals.
  4. The learner will write an email to a community member inviting them into their classroom to improve students’ financial decision-making capacity.


Curriculum Map

Cartie personal finance curriculum map.png















References and Resources


Bransford, J. D., Brown, A. L., & Cocking, R.R. (1999). The Design of Learning Environments. (Chapter 6) How people learn: brain, mind, experience, and school. Retrieved from http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=9853&page=131

Cartie, P. (2018, October 28). Compound interest and student loans [YouTube video]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/OtAWs1DbQxY

Cole, S., Paulson, A., & Shastry, G. K. (2013). High school and financial outcomes: The impact of mandated personal finance and mathematics courses. Manuscript: Harvard Business School. Retrieved from http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.360.6695&rep=rep1&type=pdf

Jazz Wealth Managers. (2018, February 6). Why choose an independent financial advisor? [YouTube video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=APWhC_vXorg

Khan Academy. (2017, July 21). Options for tracking and managing your spending [YouTube video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo6tNKdDW4E&feature=youtu.be

Lusardi, A., & Mitchell, O. S. (2011, Oct). Financial literacy around the world. J Pension Econ Financ, 10(4), 497–508. doi:10.1017/S1474747211000448. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5445931/pdf/nihms857789.pdf

New York State Higher Education Services Corporation. (n.d.) Regents requirements. Retrieved from https://www.hesc.ny.gov/prepare-for-college/your-high-school-path-to-college/regents-requirements.html

Visions Federal Credit Union. (2018). Resources. Retrieved from https://www.visionsfcu.org/

Wall Street Survivor. (2013, April 29). Interests rates by wall street survivor [YouTube video]. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/GHHesANT6OM

Weiler, K. (2016, April 28). Common core algebra II.unit 4.lesson 6.Exponential modeling with percent growth and decay.V2 [YouTube video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZiAhziv3fo

Weiler, K. (2018). eMathInstruction: Teaching math just got a whole lot easier. Retrieved from https://www.emathinstruction.com/