An Examination of Personal Financial Literacy Teaching and Learning in Ontario High Schools
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The purpose of the study was to examine the experiences of current high school students, teachers, and high school graduates in Ontario regarding their experiences with personal financial curriculum and teaching at the secondary level, and to identify the ways in which this important educational experience may have helped prepare students to become financially literate. I sought to examine how helpful and productive financial literacy teaching and curriculum were at preparing students to confidently address personal financial issues they would inevitably face. I considered this overarching issue using a transdisciplinary lens from the perspective of the three stakeholder groups. Using a case study research design, the first of its kind in Ontario or Canada on this topic, I utilized interviews, artifacts, and surveys to uncover student and teacher experiential data across three high schools and two institutions of higher learning in southeastern Ontario. For the interviews and artifacts, there were 12 students and 12 teachers from three high schools. For the high school graduate surveys, there were 344 participants, drawn from one college and one university. Inductive thematic analysis was used for the interviews and artifacts; descriptive and inferential statistical analyses were used for the surveys, with some significance testing. The major findings were that current students and high school graduates perceived curriculum and teaching experiences as seriously lacking in effectively preparing them to be financially literate, and that a fundamental reorientation around transdisciplinary, student-led learning was key to transforming such learning into a more meaningful and valuable educational experience. The central finding from the teacher perspective was that such instruction should be mandated, properly supported and largely student-led; reaffirming the view that greater student learning, meaning and value were achievable with suitable enactment. Accordingly, the three stakeholder groups shared the view that curriculum and teaching in the area of personal financial literacy was largely absent and/or ineffective at meeting student interests and needs. With mandatory, properly supported, student-oriented (transdisciplinary) instruction, the potential exists for more effective and valuable learning, resulting in better equipped high school students that were properly prepared to successfully navigate financial issues and the path ahead.
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