Strategies to “Liven Up” Financial Education Briefings

By Barbara O’Neill, Ph.D., CFP®, boneill@njaes.rutgers.edu

Several female adults working around a table on a project.
Photo by RF._.studio on Pexels

On an evaluation survey from a recent OneOp webinar, a participant indicated an interest in learning strategies to “liven up” financial education briefings and increase participant interaction.

Below are a dozen interactive teaching methods for Personal Financial Managers (PFMs) to consider:

  1. Case Study Analyses– Case studies can be created by PFMs using composites of client situations. They are also available in slide decks for several OneOp webinars, including this presentation about insurance.
  2. Current EventsLinking the content of briefings to current financial events provides real-world context. An example: discussing investment risk tolerance and mentioning recent stock market volatility and the collapse of cryptocurrency trading platforms.
  3. Financial Calculator Debriefs– PFMs can develop activities based on tactile cardboard calculators with sliding inserts or online calculators. Assign a task to gather information and debrief the activity afterward.
  4. Gallery Walks– Learners work in small groups on a financial education-related task, display the results of their work (e.g., newsprint pad), and walk around the room to view and discuss the work of others.
  5. Documentary DebriefsDozens of documentary films about personal finance topics can be accessed through streaming services and online searching. They can be assigned as “homework” with a follow-up discussion.
  6. Guest Speakers– Learners relate to powerful stories. Speakers can include professionals talking about actions taken by their clients or people who successfully addressed financial “issues” such as high debt or low savings.
  7. PowerPoint Games– Hundreds of games, styled after popular television game shows and developed by creative educators, are available for free online. They can be downloaded and used to create a template to cover military-specific content.
  8. Seven-Word Soundbite– This activity works exactly as it sounds. After teaching a personal finance topic, the group facilitator asks learners to summarize what they learned in seven words.
  9. Simulations- There are dozens of financial simulations available, some from non-profit sources, which teach financial concepts by requiring participants to make real-time spending decisions about hypothetical families.
  10. Tech Tools– Free tools can be used to engage audiences. Example: apps that poll audiences via their cell phones and report back the results. One tech tool that many K-12 teachers use includes “collaboration boards” for participants to share ideas and another includes a series of quiz questions on financial topics.
  11. Think-Pair-Share– This collaborative learning method begins with a question that learners consider alone for a few minutes. Then they pair up with a partner to discuss for 3-5 minutes, followed by a total group discussion.
  12. WebQuests- This inquiry-oriented activity capitalizes on young adults’ ubiquitous use of smartphones and the internet. Learners are given a series of challenges to find and evaluate online data followed by a group debrief.
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