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Wisconsin's mathematical financial literacy for adults: does it exist and is there a need?

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Salmon, Jeanne
Coffman, Robert
MSE, Mathematics
Sep 12, 2012
Personal finance; Mathematics--Study and teaching; Mathematics--Study and teaching--Wisconsin; Finance, Personal--Study and teaching--Wisconsin; Financial literacy; Mathematics; Financial literacy--Wisconsin; Finance, Personal--Wisconsin; Finance, Personal
Financial literacy has been a hot topic in recent years. Wisconsin's Governor Jim Doyle implemented a council on this topic in 2005 in the efforts to help its citizens. Through this council, Wisconsin has helped support and implement many programs for kids and adults. However, people have testified before the United States government that a roadblock of financial literacy is poor math skills, yet these two topics are not taught together. Can a financial literacy program be truly successful without basic math skills? It is easier to reach those currently in high school and grade school, but what about the adults who are no longer in school and do not have the basic math skills needed to understand basic financial literacy topics? The purpose of this study is to see if teaching math with financial literacy to adults has a noticeable impact on their understanding of the topics presented. Six financial topics were presented with the mathematical skills needed to compute and understand them over a three week seminar. These topics include: multiplying decimals, percentages, budgeting, simple interest, compound interest, mortgages, credit cards, and retirement. The subjects were from the St. Croix Valley Jobs Center in River Falls, Wisconsin. After analyzing the data, there were noticeable improvements from the subject's first week pretests to their third week posttests. This study also led to more questions: Do some people not seek help in financial literacy due to a fear of mathematics? Is Wisconsin's financial literacy program all that it says it is? This study concludes that mathematics and financial literacy should be taught jointly for optimal success.
Plan B Paper. 2012. Master of Science in Education-Mathematics--University of Wisconsin-River Falls. Mathematics Department. 43 leaves. Includes bibliographical references (leaf 16).
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