Beyond Sorted: Developing Critical Adult Financial Education
Fearnley, R. (2012). Beyond Sorted: Developing Critical Adult Financial Education (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/8455
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/8455
This research sought to reimagine financial education from a critical theory perspective. This study proposes how a community of learners operating a critical pedagogy could be used to deliver adult financial education, and to provide a curriculum for use by such a community of learners. To achieve that aim, the objectives of this research were to complete an investigation into financial education discourses within New Zealand, to identify elements that compose financial education within each of these discourses and to combine those elements to create a comprehensive curriculum that when combined with the pedagogical approach form a critical adult financial education programme. These objectives were achieved by conducting an investigation into the financial literacy and capability discourses in New Zealand to determine how these may be synthesised into an inclusive discourse. Four major discourses were identified following the collection and sorting of a wide selection of stakeholders within the financial education domain. The groupings were labelled governmental, community, commercial and academic to determine where there were overlaps and voids in the themes contained within these discourses. The key themes were then incorporated into the learning areas of a new curriculum matrix that became the research platform for this study. The curriculum matrix included key competencies drawn both from the financial education discourses and from critical pedagogy influenced strongly by the theories and practises of Paulo Freire and Eduard Lindeman. The financial competencies identified were: financial decision making, financial goal setting, personal financial management and financial communication. The competencies evolving from the pedagogy were: critical thinking, self-reflection and agency. Also included were broad learning areas that would help identify topics for inquiry. These were: financial language, financial calculations, financial administration, financial products, financial services, consumerism and citizenship, seeking advice or remedy, and financial identity. The learning areas also included ‘institutions’ and ‘structures’ that support the neoliberal ideology dominant in New Zealand and much of the rest of the western world at this time in history. The inclusion of these indicated that a critical adult financial education must intend to identify and challenge injustices in local and global political and economic spheres to aim for emancipation from such injustices. The final element in the matrix was a selection of general and educational values used to support the effective operation of the community of learners. These values were suggestions only and the research platform recognised that each community of learners would create their own set of values to reflect the community’s ethos. Rather than include specific learning intentions or achievement criteria in the matrix, it was intended that the communities of learners would determine their own intentions and criteria. The curriculum matrix and pedagogical approach were presented as a programme for critical adult financial education. In order to evaluate the programme, a qualitative Delphi inquiry was conducted over two rounds. The first round asked for two sets of feedback from experts within education and financial education domains. The first was to comment on the matrix and identify what they perceived as its strengths and weaknesses. The second question asked for feedback on the feasibility of the community of learners approach, operating a critical pedagogy, and applied to financial education. The results from the first round were synthesised, summarised and presented back to the participants via the web-based research platform, and further questions about specific issues common to many of the responses were posed in order to seek clarification of areas of high interest. The data from the Delphi provided varying responses and levels of support or critique for the programme. Respondents asked many questions, often seeking context for the programme or querying the choices of language use in the matrix or the overall operation of the community of learners. No concrete conclusions about the potential effectiveness of a critical adult financial education delivered via the proposed programme were obtained from the Delphi inquiry. Instead, the results showed that further clarification and contextualisation of the programme was sought by the majority of respondents. Respondents sought the inclusion of achievement criteria within the matrix even though this was antithetical to the intentions of the design. Regarding the community of learners approach, the respondents were sceptical about whether an effective learning dynamic could be created considering the usually personal nature of financial learning. The purpose of adult education and adult financial education was examined as a part of the inquiry, which revealed that expectations of financial education are often so deeply entrenched in mainstream discourses that the notion of a critical approach is rejected even in theory. Overall the data showed that this programme, or possibly any critically located financial education programme, would be unlikely to find widespread support from those operating in mainstream financial education.
University of Waikato
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