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Supporting Deeper Learning in Economics and Personal Finance

How do we assess what students know and can do? That’s a big topic of conversation in Virginia, our region, and across the country as school systems consider the mix of traditional assessments, like multiple choice tests and performance-based assessments that require students to apply their knowledge and skills to real-life situations.

This topic was the focus of the Richmond Fed’s 2018 Joint Council on Economic Education meeting, a gathering of leaders of economic and financial education organizations across our District to discuss issues relevant to strengthening students’ economic and financial literacy. Meeting participants engaged in a day-long discussion about performance-based learning and assessment and how it can be incorporated into economic and financial education.

“Today is an opportunity for us to share ideas and experiences across our District about authentic teaching and how to apply it to what we each do,” welcomed Ann Macheras, group vice president who oversees our Economic Education team.

Heather Lageman, executive director of leadership development from Baltimore County Public Schools and member of the National Task Force for Assessment Education, engaged participants in a discussion about the keys to developing a solid assessment system, including clear learning targets, sound assessment design and student involvement. She noted that using a variety of assessment methods gives students the best opportunity to demonstrate their understanding.

Attendees were able to demonstrate their knowledge by participating in an active learning activity.

Attendees were challenged to create environments that foster deeper learning, a term Alcine Mumby from Envision Learning Partners used to describe skills such as complex problem-solving, collaboration and communication that students will need to succeed in jobs and life. Mumby cited the importance of including real-world applications to make content meaningful.

Participants were also presented with research findings on student learning and assessment in economic education specifically. KimMarie McGoldrick, professor of economics at the University of Richmond, outlined techniques, such as cooperative learning and classroom experiments, that have been demonstrated through research to enhance learning in economics. Alternative forms of assessment are being developed, but she emphasized the need for more carefully conducted studies of the effectiveness of different pedagogical strategies in economic education.

The day concluded with a brainstorming session where attendees discussed how they plan to apply what they learned from the sessions. Some participants plan to build new performance assessments to strengthen the instructional resources they already provide to teachers. Other Joint Council participants plan to enhance their teacher training programs to help teachers incorporate performance-based teaching methods. Participants who deliver student programs, such as competitions, are taking a fresh look at how they can incorporate deeper learning competencies into these programs as well.

Contact our Economic Education team if you would like more information on assessment methods, have ideas for an authentic assessment or would like to be part of future Joint Council programs.

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Jim Strader (804) 697-8956 (804) 332-0207 (mobile)
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