Many college students struggle financially, and student debt continues to grow in the United States. Students that complete a degree can have high monthly student loan payments, and those that do not complete a degree can struggle financially even more. There is a growing amount of research examining methods to reduce these financial challenges.
Since financial knowledge, attitudes and behaviors have been studied as to how they impact student debt, the purpose of this study was to examine financial knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of community college students and consider an educational intervention as a possible way to impact those variables. The intervention was in the form of exposing students to a series of short, specific, digital learning objects. The research objectives of this study were to describe community college students’ financial knowledge, financial attitudes, planned financial behaviors, and actual short-term financial behaviors in the areas of budgeting/saving, credit, and student loans, before and after exposure to the digital learning objects.
There was a statistically significant treatment effect for financial knowledge, but not for financial attitudes. For financial behaviors, six unique intended and actual financial behaviors were examined, with half of them showing a significant difference after exposure to the digital learning objects. Planned and actual behaviors in the areas of budgeting, saving, and payment behavior were most effected. Certain ages and racial groups reported salient results in some areas. Students identifying as Black/African American had lower than average scores and lessor treatment effects for financial knowledge, higher than average rates of behavior and higher treatment effects for monthly budgeting, and lower rates of behavior and lower treatment effects for positive payment behaviors. Students under 25 years old reported below average behaviors and treatment effects for monthly budgeting, savings, and payment behaviors.
Educators can add this study to the growing body of research regarding the effectiveness of digital learning objects and other open education resources as effective learning supplements. Researchers can examine which learning objects and other resources are most effective based on subject matter, as well as student demographics. The implications for both groups are that digital learning objects can be employed to aid in student learning, and further study is recommended to gain more detailed insights.