This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Examining the Effectiveness of Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Youth Financial Education Program: Behavioral Changes of Program Participants




Jones, Theresa

Type of Degree



Education Foundation, Leadership, and Technology


The purpose of this study was to measure the effectiveness of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System’s Youth Reality Check financial education program. This study identified intended changes in financial behaviors; changes in knowledge, and any effects of demographics on participant’s perception of the Reality Check program. A total of 396 students in 7th through 12th grades participated in the study. Data was collected from students in eight of nine regions in Alabama. The assessment instrument was partially modified from a Financial Literacy questionnaire developed by Danes et al. (1999) and Mandell (2008). The instrument was adapted by adding one financial behavior question and six knowledge questions. The inclusion of demographics, eight perception questions and one open-ended question was added to allow multiple responses. The results of the assessments showed that the Reality Check program is effective and it is making an impact on students. Over three-fourths of the participants reported financial behavior changes. The frequency of all eight financial behavior practices increased whereas the number of students reporting “never” or almost never” decreased. Items participants reported practicing the most before and after the program included buying items needed first, then items wanted, setting money aside for future needs or wants, and saving money on a regular basis. Students reported a significant intent to change their financial behavior after the program, and the Cohen’s d effect size (1.399) was large. Eighty-one percent of participants received a passing score on the knowledge post-test after only 56% passed the pre-test. There was a significant change in participants’ knowledge with a medium Cohen’s d effect size (.767). For the effect of participants recommending the Reality Check program to other teens, significant differences were found when analyzing perception by race and by gender. As it relates to the effect of students feeling that the Reality Check program helped them to see the relationship between education and career options, significant differences were found when analyzing participant’s perception by grade. Lastly, as it relates to the effect of the Reality Check program improving youth’s financial management skills, significant differences were found when analyzing perception by home location.