Under-qualified Financial Educators Pose Risk
Under-qualified or poorly-performing financial educators may bring future economic disaster. The effects of poor teaching can continue to affect students’ lives for many years after instruction ends.
Unfortunately, many financial literacy instructors today lack solid educator credentials and/or knowledge about personal finance topics. Beyond academic qualifications, studies also show that an educator’s passion, enthusiasm, and commitment play critical roles in successful student development, and a correlation certainly exists between an educator’s level of personal commitment and students’ financial futures.  
Effective educators help learners achieve better outcomes. Numerous studies have shown that students of highly-qualified educators accomplish more positive outcomes than those taught by less-qualified instructors. For example, students of qualified educators may expect higher lifetime earnings and greater security at retirement  as well as improved mental and physical health and well-being. 
Financial education is a unique subject that requires specialized expertise to teach effectively. The quality of financial education instructors directly influences both short-term student outcomes and long-term impact on their financial wellbeing.
Unlike other core subject matter typically taught in schools, the topic of money elicits emotional reactions in people—ranging from excitement to anxiety to shame. Each participant in a financial literacy course brings his or her own experience, emotions, and relationship with money into the classroom. Educators must understand and respect these emotional reactions to succeed in establishing financial literacy among participants.
Emotional attachment and pre-existing relationships with money also put participants at greater risk. The NFEC uses the Transtheoretical Model of Behavior Change to measure a person’s willingness to change his or her financial behaviors. When participants are taught by an untrained educator, their risk of regressing to lower stages in the model is greatly increased. Thus they are likely to become more resistant to changing their financial acumen and habits.
To facilitate lasting behavior modification, educators must help students achieve a deeper level of understanding about financial literacy lessons compared to other core subject requirements. The NFEC advocates that instructors use Bloom’s Taxonomy of Higher-order Thinking Skills or the Depth of Knowledge Levels as a framework for teaching personal finance. Given adequate instruction time, a highly-qualified financial education instructor drives participants to synthesize the lessons and make decisions in alignment with their individual financial situations. Few other topics taught in schools demand such depth of understanding; for most subjects students simply need to recall information to pass testing requirements.
Qualified financial education instructors understand that “one-size-fits-all” pedagogy does not work. The NFEC believes that financial education instructors are not simply dispensers of knowledge; they are learning facilitators who can mold or modify participants’ behavior to help them achieve financial wellness.
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