Introduction: NEFE’s Financial Education Evaluation Manual
Financial education plays an important role in guiding individuals to achieve their financial goals and contribute to the economic well-being of society as a whole. Without financial knowledge, consumers can have difficulty making decisions in today's complicated marketplace. There is a critical need to educate people in basic financial issues so they may make wiser consumer decisions.
Many people fail to recognize the important role that financial education plays in the United States economy. Research shows that the impacts and results of financial education programs are not sufficiently evaluated. If such results were more widely tracked and disseminated, successful programs would be taught more frequently and less successful programs either would be improved or discontinued. The National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®) developed this evaluation manual, an essential component of the NEFE Financial Education Evaluation Toolkit®, to address this deficiency.
The NEFE Financial Education Evaluation Manual helps financial educators understand the purpose and goals of evaluation, and provides a basic overview of the evaluation process. This information is designed for educational program managers, educators and decision-makers who are implementing financial education programs in traditional school settings or community-based programs/nonprofit organizations.
The principles and practices outlined here provide a general guide for the evaluation of financial education projects, interventions or programs, regardless of the age of the recipients, the curriculum, the context of service delivery, or the timeline of the intervention.
Where possible, this manual provides an overview of these topics from the field of evaluation, as well as providing details specific to the financial education context.
The manual is organized around the following sections:
- Introduction to Evaluation
- Planning: Preparing for the Evaluation of Financial Education Projects and Programs
- Implementing: Financial Education Evaluation Design and Data Collection
- Utilizing: Evaluation Data Use and Continuous Quality Improvement
Each of the four sections begins with a short summary of the content for the section, and is organized around driving questions. Additionally, NEFE offers a number of websites to help financial educators, including the NEFE Financial Education Evaluation Toolkit® (toolkit.nefe.org). Visit www.nefe.org for up-to-date information about current research projects and programmatic initiatives. Throughout the evaluation manual, additional resources are identified for educators seeking more information on specific topics (in the text, as well as in Appendix D, Evaluation Resources). Additionally, Appendix A provides a glossary of evaluation terms discussed in this manual for reference.