Experimental Design Details
The educational material was designed for students in the second and third year of secondary education (13 – 15 years old) in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking region of Belgium. Before the intervention, all students filled in pretest to examine their financial literacy. Students also reported characteristics like gender, socio-economic status and performance in Dutch and mathematics. Teachers completed a separate questionnaire. After completion of the questionnaires, schools in the experimental conditions received the educational material, including instructions for teachers on how to implement the course. Schools assigned to the control condition completed the tests at the same time as those in the experimental conditions, but did not follow the course until after completion of the posttest.
Approximately one month after filling in the pretest, students in the three experimental conditions followed a 4-hour course on financial literacy, focusing on saving and investing. The material was offered in the form of a digital adaptive learning path, that the students followed in pairs. Students were assigned to one of three different paths based on a test that examined their prior knowledge on the topic. The three paths differed in the difficulty of exercises and the extent to which feedback was provided.
Experimental condition 2 allows to examine the effectiveness of the course in itself. Therefore, teachers solely received a teacher manual containing the learning goals, instructions on the implementation of the material, an overview of the content, and solutions to all questions and exercises. Experimental condition 3 provides insight into whether enhanced teacher involvement would enhance the effectiveness of the adaptive learning path. Specifically, teachers were asked to develop and implement a motivational phase of approximately 20 minutes, that would precede the programme. Teachers had to coach students while going through the material, and regularly organise feedback moments. Teachers allocated to experimental condition 3 followed a three-part webinar series. The initiative took place before the educational material was received (in October 2018). Each webinar lasted one hour (+ one hour preparation time), and included instruction by the senior teachers who developed the material, and online cooperation with peers. The series focused on enhancing teachers’ knowledge on saving and investing, as well as their didactical knowledge on how to stimulate self-regulated learning. Comparing this condition with experimental condition 2 reveals whether professional development was needed for a beneficial impact of enhanced teacher involvement.
At the end of this course, students and teachers again filled in a test that measures their knowledge on the content covered. For comparability, the pretest and posttest contained similar questions.