• A few personal finance lessons from the pandemic

    A young woman learning financial course using laptop.

    A few personal finance lessons from the pandemic

    Recent high school graduates are making financial choices during a pandemic that will impact their financial lives moving forward. Now, more than ever, it is extremely important for high school students to have the basic and foundational training needed to make informed financial decisions.

    COVID-19's impact

    The COVID-19 pandemic impacted our lives in numerous ways and forever changed the way we work, conduct business, and live our lives. Pew Research recently published personal finance statistics about the pandemic including;

    • Over 50% of non-retired adults believe the pandemic consequences will make it more difficult to achieve their financial goals.
    • 44% of people that believe the pandemic worsened their financial situation believe it will take at least 3 years to recover.
    • Lower income, minorities, and younger adults are more likely to have lost a job or taken a pay cut due to the pandemic.
    • Many respondents indicated their credit ratings had taken a hit due to the pandemic.1

    So, what can we learn from the pandemic? Let’s look at a few life lessons we can glean from our collective experiences.

    Rainy day fund

    Most financial experts recommend you have an emergency reserve fund, or rainy day fund, equivalent to three to six months living expenses set aside for emergency use. For example, assume your monthly expenses that include housing, automobile costs, insurance, utilities, food, and entertainment total about $2,500 per month. You will need to build a rainy day fund equivalent to $7,500– $15,000 that you can invest in liquid assets to help you weather job loss or other emergencies.

    Keep this money in a checking or savings account so you can access it quickly. Even though inflation is eroding the value at this time, you will still need to be able to access this money in an emergency.

    If you need to replenish your rainy day fund that was depleted during the pandemic, or establish one now, this should be one of your top priorities. Many people forced to stay home during the pandemic learned the importance of this cash reserve.

    Career choices

    Are you an essential worker or a nonessential worker? This designation applied to everyone during the pandemic when the government forced us to stay home. Some of us were able to work remotely. Others had jobs that had to be filled regardless of the pandemic like health care professionals, law enforcement, fire protection, and teachers. Some worked from home and others reported to work. Keep this in mind as you begin thinking about a career path. If you worked in hospitality and tourism or retail, you probably did not have a job during the pandemic.

    Rebuild your credit score if needed

    Many people were unable to make their payments during the pandemic which harmed their credit scores. A good credit score impacts your ability to borrow money and the interest rate you pay on those loans. A poor credit score can cost you thousands of dollars in additional interest charges over your lifetime.

    If your credit score took a hit during the pandemic, you need to begin repairing it now. Develop a plan to pay off loans that are in default. Pay down high interest credit card debt. Consider consolidating your loans and contact your lenders to work out a repayment plan.

    Tighten your budget

    Do you know where your money goes every month? Track your cash inflows and outflows for a couple of months. This will help you identify areas where you can cut back on spending.

    Make sure you have a long-term plan to create a continuous cash surplus so you can use this money to establish or replenish your rainy day fund and rebuild your credit. You may be able to sell a few things you no longer need or want or work a few extra hours each week. Create that budget surplus so you can become more financially secure.

    Reduce your debt

    Many people learned during the pandemic that their budgets were stretched too tight. They had too much debt to weather a loss in income. Take advantage of the current environment and try to pay off as much debt as possible.

    If you can go into the next financial crisis, whether economy-wide or on a personal level, with limited debt it makes it much easier to survive. Focus on paying down high interest debt first. Hopefully, the only debt you will have in a few years is your home mortgage.

    Learn more in Personal Financial Literacy, 3rd Edition

    There are other financial lessons you can learn from the pandemic, but this list is a good place to start. As the pandemic has shown, students today need more preparation than ever for the financial “real world” prior to high school graduation.

    Personal Financial Literacy, 3rd Edition (Madura, Casey & Roberts) addresses many of the issues presented here, including learning to budget, understanding how to read a paycheck and determining net (take-home) pay, choosing a bank or taking out a loan, and much more.

    Learn more about Personal Financial Literacy, 3rd Edition, by Jeffery Madura, Michael Casey, and Sherry Roberts

    Sources

    1Horowitz, J.M., A. Brown, and R. Minkin (March 5, 2021); “A Year Into the Pandemic, Long-Term Financial Impact Weighs Heavily on Many Americans” Pew Research Center

    read more
  • The role of remote proctoring tools in academic integrity

    A young woman using proctoring tool on a a desktop.

    Academic integrity has been of paramount concern in distance education since its inception. Arguably, the integrity of online classes received increased attention in recent years due to the pandemic when many instructors and students alike were thrust into the world of online learning by force.   

    During this time, upwards of 75% of all undergraduate students were enrolled in at least one distance education course. Further, 44% of undergraduate students took only online classes during this time (NCES, 2022). Some online instructors utilize measures outside of traditional tests to discourage cheating, such as projects, open-ended assessment questions, or other “internet resistant” question types (Suzuki, 2000).   

    However, many of these instructors also require proctored testing as part of their academic integrity toolbox. While in-person proctoring may be the gold standard, as far as control over the testing environment and the test-takers, remote proctoring may be a more cost-effective option for students who do not live near a testing center or students who need to minimize proctoring costs.  

    Pearson has partnered with two titans of the online proctoring industry to offer remote proctoring options directly within MyLab®: ProctorU and Respondus.   

    ProctorU

    ProctorU has been a well-known provider of online test proctoring since 2008. Once an institution or instructor secures an agreement with ProctorU, instructors will receive an institutional key to enable this proctoring option in their MyLab courses. Depending on the type of license that is granted, the testing cost may be covered by the institution, or it could be passed to students with a paywall before they can access the test.   

    Once enabled, ProctorU can be required for selected tests or quizzes. The process for students could not be simpler; students log into their MyLab courses and access their tests or quizzes as they normally would. When students start their tests, a window pops up that walks students through the steps to start their proctored test experience.  

    After completing the multifaceted identity verification process that includes biometric keystroke analysis, facial recognition, and challenge questions, students are monitored virtually by their webcam, microphone, and ProctorU software.  

    Respondus

    Respondus has been part of the online testing industry for over 20 years. Respondus Monitor is their automated remote proctoring system that uses a student's webcam and industry-leading analytics to detect suspicious activity during exams and has been integrated into MyLab since 2020. To enable Respondus Monitor, instructors can choose to enter the Respondus license of their institutions, if available, or they can immediately choose the Student Payment option, which will pass the nominal test cost directly to the student.     

    Respondus Monitor can be required for selected tests or quizzes. Further, instructors can customize the authentication sequence that students must complete prior to starting their tests (e.g., include custom instructions, require students to show their ID, check students’ environment, etc.).

    Proctored testing is one of many tools often utilized by online instructors to help ensure the academic integrity of their courses. For more information about our platform proctoring options, explore MyLab and Mastering® features or speak with your sales rep today.  

      

    Sources  

    United States Department of Education. N.d. Fast Facts. National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed October 26, 2022. https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=80  

    Suzuki, J. (2020, August 4.). Writing good questions for the internet era. American Mathematical Society Blog. https://blogs.ams.org/matheducation/2020/08/04/3229/

    read more
  • They Might Not Read It, But They’ll Always Watch It!

    by Dr. Terri Moore

    A woman is sitting on some stairs outdoors, wearing headphones and looking at a tablet she is holding.

    The COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 revealed challenges for students and teachers worldwide. By the end of the 2021 school year, students in K-12 were months behind in math and reading. Students and teachers had faced changes in schedules, new teachers midyear, internet challenges, and Zoom exhaustion.

    These changes forced a sudden change in traditional teaching and learning styles. The digital transformation in education advanced exponentially, creating new opportunities for students to learn through video rather than solely for gaming.

    The value of video

    Teachers learned how to use videos to keep their students engaged. Video provides the much-needed flexibility and personalization to individualize learning experiences for specific student needs. Students benefit by watching at their own pace, anywhere, anytime, allowing them to stop, rewind, and play again to meet their needs.

    read more
  • Vermeer’s Woman Holding A Balance

    by Pearson

    Vermeer's Woman Holding A Balance

    Johannes Vermeer’s Woman Holding A Balance was the featured art in the October HSS eNews.

    Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) was a Dutch artist. Created c. 1664, Woman Holding A Balance is oil on canvas measuring 15 5/8” x 14”. The image is courtesy of the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

    read more
  • Improve learning by adding video

    by Pearson

    Improve learning by adding video

    Video is everywhere. With more than a billion hours of video footage viewed on YouTube every day,1 it is a medium that most students are both familiar and comfortable with. The question is not whether to use videos in higher education, but how to use them to improve learner outcomes.There is plenty of research that touches on the role of video in learning, and there are even some studies that specifically examine the different ways of using video in university or college courses.

    After reviewing and analyzing this research, we’re confident that most higher education courses could improve learner outcomes by supplementing instruction and other learning content with relevant educational videos.

    Here are three reasons why.

    1. Students want to learn from videos

    Video is part of higher education even when it’s not officially part of the learning experience. Some higher education students prefer videos to written sources and many will seek out subject-related videos on YouTube, even when they’re not assigned.

    In a survey of hundreds of business students:

    • 71% said they used YouTube as part of their academic learning
    • 70.5% believed they could learn a lot about a subject by watching related videos instead of reading a book2

    In a 2020 study, a group of higher education students was given 30 minutes of online research time to learn enough about a topic to write a brief summary. On average, the students spent 8.5 of their 30 minutes watching videos. Only 15.7% of the students watched no videos at all.3

    Studies also seem to show that the appeal of video is not limited to particular subjects or learning preferences.4 Whatever the course, and whatever the makeup of the student body, including videos can engage students in learning.

    2. Supplemental videos improve learning

    Videos clearly appeal to students, but do they actually help them learn? When combined with other learning methods, there is evidence that they can.

    A 2021 study looked at different ways of using videos in higher education courses. The researchers found that pivoting the course to video — dropping existing teaching methods and having students watch videos instead — did improve learning somewhat.

    But the biggest improvements came when video was added to the existing course content, rather than replacing it.5

    This may be because adding video gives students more ways to understand the content. If the learning didn’t take hold from a lecture or a written text, maybe it would from a video. Whereas when video replaced other methods, if a student didn’t grasp the content from the video, they had no alternative ways in.

    3. Videos can directly affect learning

    Does including videos improve learning by making the course more engaging, or do the videos themselves help improve learning? Understanding this helps determine the best types of video to include in higher education courses.

    A 2014 study experimented with integrating different types of videos into lectures. When the videos were mainly entertaining, students’ motivation and engagement improved. Higher motivation and engagement are associated with better learning outcomes.

    But when the videos were mainly educational and directly relevant to the lecture topic, students performed better on post-lecture quizzes than those who attended a lecture without videos.6

    This shows that while videos can affect learning by engaging students, they can also have a direct effect on students’ knowledge.

    Improving learning for students at all experience levels

    To summarize, based on a range of studies:

    • higher education courses should include videos
    • videos should supplement, not replace, existing course content and instruction
    • videos should be educational in nature and directly relevant to the subject

    When videos are integrated into higher education courses in this way, students — whatever their previous academic history — are more likely to outperform their predicted grades.7

    read more
  • How unlimited information actually limits learning

    by Pearson

    How unlimited information actually limits learning

    Once, students looking to supplement their knowledge of a topic had to rely on the limited selection of books in their college library. Today, college students have nearly unlimited information at their fingertips. But does more information always equal better learning?

    A number of recent research studies suggest that in fact, providing students with a more limited set of high-quality resources chosen specifically for the course can lead to better outcomes than when students supplement their knowledge using the internet. Importantly, it may also help to level out inequities in the learning environment.

    It’s true that there is a large amount of high quality information available online, on nearly every topic imaginable. It’s also true that searching, assessing, filtering, and making use of online resources are valuable 21st-century skills. So it’s understandable when higher education courses call for students to look online for sources to cite, or to supplement their knowledge of the course subject.

    But that’s just the thing: finding information online and judging its reliability are skills in themselves. This complicates learning, because:

    • not all students in the course will have those skills to the same degree
    • they’re not usually the skills the course is teaching (or assessing)

    Reliable, or just familiar?

    As you may expect from a group of people who have largely grown up with the internet, higher education students know that not everything they find online is reliable. They do think about the origins of the information they find, and judge whether they are credible.

    However, students don’t always know how to make these kinds of judgments accurately.

    In one 2020 study, higher education students were provided with several items from different sources and prompted to write about the items’ perspectives. More than 2 in 5 of the students (41%) assumed that certain items were credible because they recognized the source.1 They thought they were judging the reliability of the information, but were really rating the familiarity of the sources.

    Another study, also published in 2020, asked economics students to use a search engine to investigate the truth of several claims. Again, these students ended up relying heavily on sites they were familiar with, rather than truly valid or reliable sources. Perhaps unsurprisingly, one of their most cited sources was Wikipedia.2

    Of course, not all students make the same mistakes. For example, a 2017 study found that students who score higher for reading comprehension are also more likely to find relevant, valid results when using search engines.3 Students with previous experience of searching for academic sources may also be more accurate judges of the information they find.

    But this presents another challenge to learning. It means that in courses that ask students to supplement their subject knowledge by searching the internet, those with lower reading comprehension and less academic experience are at an unfair disadvantage.

    Best use of effort

    Even with sophisticated search engines, sifting the vast quantities of information on the internet for relevant sources takes time and effort. So does assessing the reliability of each source.

    These activities also add to students’ cognitive load: the amount of brainpower needed to complete a task.

    Students’ time, effort, and cognitive load are all finite resources. What they expend on finding and assessing sources, they aren’t using to actually increase their knowledge.

    All of this means that providing students with a hand-picked suite of high quality resources, chosen specifically for the course, is better for learning than leaving them to find their own online.

    Providing learning resources as part of the course levels the playing field. Students with different levels of reading comprehension and academic experience will all have equally valid, reliable materials to learn from.

    And because students tend to trust material provided as part of the course, they won’t use up time, effort, or cognitive load gauging whether the material is reliable.

    All in one

    This isn’t a call to send students back to the college library. Even if the world wide web isn’t the best environment for learning, there are still clear benefits to digital learning.

    In fact, digital platforms allow us to free up even more of students’ cognitive load for learning: by providing suites of reliable resources under the same roof as learning and assessment.

    _____________________________________

    This is the thinking behind Pearson+. No switching, searching, or wondering where to look. Everything needed for the course, all in one place – leading to better, more equitable outcomes for all.

     

    Sources

    1 Banerjee, Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia, & Roeper, 2020

    2 Nagel et al., 2020

    3 Hahnel et al., 2017

    read more
  • Why we should teach personal finance in high schools

    by Dr. Sherry J. Roberts

    A youngman learning financial course on a mobile device

    Why we should teach personal finance in high schools

    Reading, writing, and arithmetic are important foundations for all school-age students to help prepare them to be productive citizens. The same can be said for personal financial education.

    The financial decisions facing high school graduates

    Debt.com recently reported “financial ignorance cost the average American almost $1,400 last year.”1 When thinking about graduating from high school, most students are faced with going to college or getting a full-time job, being asked to make many new financial decisions, including:

    • applying for financial aid for college
    • housing costs
    • transportation costs
    • insurance costs (health, dental, vision, rental, car)
    • food and everyday expenses

    And these all coincide with three main categories of students’ financial goals and interests identified by Kailen Stover (May, 2021):

    • living on their own
    • credit and credit cards
    • taxes

    High school graduates are underprepared for their financial future

    Today’s 18-year-olds face financial and money management decisions from high school graduation to retirement, with the decisions they make now often having long-term effects. However, young adults may not have the experience and education to make these decisions .3

    The first major financial decision many high school seniors make is when they commit to a college/university or continued vocational training. Many of these high school seniors do not understand how payment of student loans will affect their budgets or finances beyond college.

    Ann Carns (2022) wrote that financial concerns were increased because of the pandemic and the rise of inflation causing a strain on households. She also reports other factors such as student debt levels and precarious retirement security have made it even more imperative that personal financial literacy among high school students be a priority.4

    How Personal Financial Literacy, 3rd Edition, can help

    Personal Financial Literacy, 3rd edition teaches students the essential financial management skills needed for life. It provides students with not only financial or life lessons but allows them to apply those lessons in a real-world context. The third edition:

    • teaches language/vocabulary of personal financial planning
    • introduces financial plans, cash flow, spending decisions, budgets, and balance sheets
    • provides information on renting or buying a home and the importance of homeowners or renters insurance
    • discusses savings and investing, introducing the various financial institutions and the basics of choosing a bank, available banking services, checking accounts, savings accounts, retirement savings options, and investing fundamentals (including stocks/bonds/mutual funds)
    • teaches how spending and credit affect future financial plans, emphasizing the importance of building good credit, protecting your identity, obtaining personal loans, and using credit cards wisely
    • teaches the effects of the economy, government (taxes), and continued education on life-long financial plans
    • gives an understanding of the importance of health insurance, life insurance, and other employer-provided benefits

    Financial education = successful life

    As stated earlier, financial decisions students begin to make right out of high school can and will affect them from graduation to retirement and beyond. Teaching students’ financial skills while they are still in school with a quality curriculum that successfully develops these skills is essential.

    Learn more about Personal Financial Literacy, 3rd Edition by Jeffery Madura, Michael Casey, and Sherry Roberts

    Sources

    1Debt.com Most Students Aren’t Prepared for Life After High School - Debt.com

    2Stover, Kailen (May 18, 2021); “Getting Started Teaching Personal Finance”; Edutopia.org Getting Started Teaching Personal Finance in High School | Edutopia

    3Frazier, Liz (August 29, 2019); “5 Reasons Personal Finance Should Be Taught in School”; Forbes 5 Reasons Personal Finance Should Be Taught In School (forbes.com)

    4Carns, Ann (March 18, 2022); “Bringing Personal Finance to the Classroom for Generation Z”; The New Times https://www.nytimes.com/2022/03/18/business/adviser-students-personal-finance.html
     

    read more