Date of Award

January 2020

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Bill Phillips

Department Affiliation

Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

Second Advisor

David T. McFaddin

Department Affiliation


Third Advisor

Cynthia Harper

Department Affiliation



According to the lack of financial literacy among U.S. citizens has cost upwards of $200 billion over the last twenty years. Besides racking up student loan debt that averaged about $37,172 per student in 2016 ( millennials and those in Generation Z are also the most likely to engage in risky financial behaviors like payday loans, pawnshops and tax refund advances (PwC, 2016; Mottolla, 2014). Being financially vulnerable as young adults compounded with today’s increasingly complex financial environment (Batty et al., 2015), make fertile ground for mistakes that have lifelong impact.

Over the last 20 years, much has been done to better educate students so that they can be financially capable adults. Many states have mandated financial literacy education before high school graduation and there is no lack of programs dedicated to getting students more financially prepared for the real world. Despite all of these efforts, financial knowledge scores of young adults have remained the same (Friedline & West, 2016).

At the heart of this study was finding a high impact way to teach financial literacy. This study’s purpose was to examine whether experiential education added value to a financial literacy program. Focus groups were used to explore whether fifth graders had more positive attitudes, increased interest and motivation and greater feelings of self-efficacy after the experiential portion of a financial literacy program, Junior Achievement BizTown.