Student Surveys: Capturing The Magic That Occurs in Personal Finance Classes

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Learning from A Student Survey: Personal Finance Edition

Ever wonder what students think are the most important skills they picked up in your class? An End-of-Course student survey can be a great way to see what "stuck" in your students' minds. Thanks to NGPF Fellow Sue Suttich for sharing the results from her student survey (here's a template that you can use for your End-of-Course Student Survey):

Here's a few themes that came out of it:

What's important and useful to students can be very different on student-by-student basis due to their circumstances:

  • For a student working at their first job, it was "learning about a W-4 and a W-2 form."

Investing was mentioned most frequently as the most useful skill that students identified as gaining from the class. Here's some representative comments:

  • "The most useful is probably knowing that I should open up a Roth IRA ASAP as well as learning about investing in the S&P 500 Index Fund."
  • "The most useful skill was investing and it will help me for in a few months when I get my first job."
  • " INVEST EARLY! This is important because it could mean the difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars in my future."
  • "I think investing is the most useful thing I learned as I hadn't really had any prior knowledge about it before this class, that and knowing that if I am to retire some day I will have to know how to invest."

Many students also felt that learning about taxes was important:

  • "How to pay your taxes and what the forms you receive after getting a job do. I never would have been able to figure that out on my own."
  • "I think the most useful skill I learned was how to do taxes because without that I would not know how to do them."

Asking an open-ended question like "Anything else you would like to share with me" can lead to some great testimonials to share with admin about the immediate impact this course can have on student behavior and opening up a dialogue with adults in their lives. Here's what a few of Sue's students had to say:

  • "I'm really glad I took this class and I wish I took it my sophomore year so I would learn how important it is to save my money, just in this last semester I've thought twice about spending money on dumb things and I've already saved over $800 and gotten a job. This class is very inspiring!"

Beyond the Student Survey: Explore More Tools from Next Gen Personal Finance

Be sure to check out other great tools in the NGPF Advocacy Playbook

About the Author: Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.