Teaching financial skills in primary school is important – game-based learning produces good results

Posted on 10/05/16.

Yrityskylä perustuu siihen, että oppilaat viettävät päivän talouden toimintaa simuloivassa oppimisympäristössä ja hankkivat sieltä työelämään, talouteen ja yrittäjyyteen liittyviä tietoja ja taitoja.Kuva: Yrityskylä/Samuli Räikkönen

Me & MyCity, a Finnish education innovation based on game-based learning, significantly improves the financial skills of schoolchildren, according to a recent study from the University of Vaasa funded by the Academy of Finland. The results were published on Tuesday at a science breakfast organised by the Academy.

“The results prove that financial matters can be successfully taught to children as early as in primary school,” says Panu Kalmi, Professor of Economics at the University of Vaasa, who conducted the study.

Next autumn, with the adoption of the New National Core Curriculum for Basic Education, financial matters will be introduced to pupils in Year 4. Previously, they have usually not been taught until Year 9.

“Financial matters should be presented in a practical way, using real-life scenarios, in order to make their management a natural part of everyday life later on,” Kalmi says.

In Me & MyCity, the idea is that pupils spend a day in a learning environment that simulates the operation of the economy, gaining skills and knowledge related to the world of work, the economy and entrepreneurship. The concept also includes lessons given in the classroom.

“It’s important to motivate primary school children to learn financial skills, since they haven’t had time to adopt bad financial management practices. In basic education, we can reach the entire age group,” Kalmi notes.

Girls and boys are equally skilled

The University of Vaasa compiled the research material from 46 schools in Helsinki, Joensuu, Kuopio, Mikkeli and Seinäjoki over the course of the 2014–2015 school year. Both the initial and final survey were responded to by around 900 pupils.

The financial knowledge of Year 6 pupils improved by some 17 per cent on average during their participation in the programme. The results were obtained by comparing pupils’ knowledge levels before and after the programme. Examples of topics in which knowledge increased the most are the understanding of interest rates, business profits and the impact of competition on pricing. No differences were observed between girls and boys.

The study showed that the learning environment increased the pupils’ interest in saving and, thereby, encouraged them to save more money. The children felt they were learning skills that would be useful in managing their finances and in the world of work. “To make children active savers, it’s also important that they have their own bank accounts and that families talk about money,” Kalmi says.

Me & MyCity was created and is coordinated by the Economic Information Office. The learning environment, which has been in use since 2010, has already been visited by more than 160,000 Year 6 pupils.

Further information:

Professor of Economics Panu Kalmi, University of Vaasa, panu.kalmi(at)uva.fi , tel. +358 44 712 3049

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