Wrap-Up & Resources

Course Wrap-Up: Participants will utilize their new knowledge on how to integrate personal finance effectively into their classroom when teaching exponential functions.

  1. You will organize digital files containing materials from this course .
  2. You will read about the big-picture connection between math courses and financial literacy over a lifetime.

How will you use the course materials in your work?

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Please take a moment to collect and organize your great ideas and the products from this mini-course! It is the author's hope that you will use these materials to expand financial literacy learning in your own classroom and to lead change in your district. If your teaching environment requires that you get others on board to make this change, the research cited throughout the units and the reflections you wrote in each Google Doc will serve you well in enlightening and inspiring others on how to integrate personal finance effectively in the mathematics classroom.

Follow these steps to organize your digital coursework:

  1. Create a new folder in your Google Drive named "Including Personal Finance When Teaching Exponential Functions Mini-Course".
  2. Navigate to your Unit 1 Google Doc, named Unit 1: Exploring Personal Finance, and move it into your mini-course folder.
  3. Navigate to your Unit 2 Google Doc, named Unit 2: Connecting Algebra 2 Concepts to Personal Finance, and move it into your mini-course folder.
  4. Navigate to your Unit 3 Google Doc, named Unit 3: Balancing Computation & Conceptual Understanding, and move it into your mini-course folder.
  5. Navigate to your Unit 4 Google Doc, named Unit 4: Designing Instruction with Real-World Applications, and move it into your mini-course folder.
  6. Download a PDF of the Unit 3 Sample Lesson Plan How Fast Does Compound Interest Compound?, and save it in your mini-course folder. File:Cartie.LessonPlanSample.ExponentialFunctions.pdf

Why is it important to use the course materials in your work?

You have explored personal finance in a variety of ways, with a focused look on interest rates and compound interest. Although we acknowledge that these two topics are a small drop in the pool of all-things personal finance, it is important to recognize the overarching effect of financial literacy in our students' lives.

You are encouraged to read the full publication from Lusardi & Mitchell (2011) as the details are interesting and applicable to our work as math educators. Four key takeaways are restated below.

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"Of course ultimately we seek to learn not just how much people know, but also how financial literacy matters over the life cycle. Intertemporal economic choice models posit that people formulate assumptions about their lifetime resources and make consumption decisions on those anticipated resources, rather than simply based on current income. Some degree of forward-looking perspective is required, so that people can save to smooth consumption over their lifetime" (Lusardi & Mitchell, 2011, p. 5).

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"The next question is why people fail to plan, and we argue that a key reason is because they are financially unsophisticated. Obviously planning requires making calculations, many of which are facilitated by financial literacy. For example, less sophisticated individuals who do not have a good grasp of interest compounding may engage in high-cost credit-card borrowing, or they may be more likely to pay high fees when using financial services. Lusardi and Tufano (2009) found that low literacy individuals are more likely to carry high cost debt and to have problems with debt. More financially literate individuals tend to include stocks in their portfolios, as they better understand the principle of risk diversification (Van Rooij et al. 2011; Christelis et al. 2010). There are also other channels via which financial literacy operates. For example higher literacy individuals may be more likely to choose funds with lower fees or be more savvy about fund expenses; for instance there is a strong correlation between financial literacy and investment in lower cost funds (Hastings and Tejeda-Ashton, 2008; Hastings et al. 2010; Hastings and Mitchell, 2011)" (Lusardi & Mitchell, 2011, p. 6).

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"The international studies of financial literacy also explore how financial literacy relates to retirement planning. In the majority of the countries studied, those who are more financially literate are more likely to plan for retirement, even after accounting for a large set of economic characteristics and economic circumstances. Given the many differences in pension schemes, privatization of pensions, and generosity of the pension system across countries, this is a remarkably consistent result. While some may argue that financial literacy is itself a choice variable so that the association between financial literacy and retirement planning may not be causal, the studies reported herein find little evidence that people invest much in financial knowledge. Indeed, it is unclear how people could improve their financial knowledge even if they wished to, given the paucity of adult education programs in several of the countries reviewed here" (Lusardi & Mitchell, 2011, p. 8).

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"Fourth, it seems clear now that financial literacy should not be taken from granted, even in countries with very developed financial markets. Indeed as the long-term shift continues toward individual responsibility for retirement saving, investment, and decumulation, it is important to evaluate which programs can best help people make good financial decisions. And last, to be effective, financial education programs will be most effective if targeted to different population subgroups. In sum, around the world, financial literacy is critical to retirement security" (Lusardi & Mitchell, 2011, p. 10).

Author's Note

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Thank you for participating in this mini-course! Personal finance is a topic that has become more important to me with age and, even with a degree in mathematics, it has tested by ability to figure out the outcomes to my choices. When I began teaching Algebra 2, I realized that interest rates were a curriculum topic that was 'worth' way more than two days in the school year and decided to shift my time accordingly. In my experience, students are engaged with learning personal finance because the popular when-am-I-ever-going-to-use-this sentiment is very clear!

There are so many fun, interesting, and creative multi-day math projects that can be built around interest rates - student loans, personal loans, car loans, mortgages, savings accounts, retirement savings, and more! I'd love to hear your ideas.

Find me on Twitter @Annie_Whitman.


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